Psychological harassment at work

Psychological harassment in the workplace is a repetition of attacks which harm the person targeted. Under the law, it must be repeated vexatious conduct or a single severe comment or act toward an employee. This means humiliating or offensive words or actions. The person does not want to be targeted by this conduct and is psychologically opposed to it. Sometimes it is evident that the harassment is done in a hostile way, with bad intentions.


However, it is not only the opinion of the employee, the harassment must be objectively determined: everyone in the place of the employee must experience the same feeling of humiliation. In this sense, the offending behaviour must affect his dignity or physical integrity. It should be noted that sexual harassment is a form of psychological harassment at work. Finally, this conduct must result in an unhealthy and harmful work environment.

Who is protected from psychological harassment under the Labour Standards Act?

The Labour Standards protect workers.

However, there are exceptions:

  • self-employed workers
  • personnel subject to federal laws (banks, government, radio and television stations, port transport, etc.).


Unionized employees and managers are included in the NTA with other workers. Employees are particularly affected by harassment and should be protected.

These behaviours are observed as follows:

  • between work colleagues,
  • in the relationship between an employer and an employee,
  • from a client to the employee,
  • or from a supplier to the employee.


News on the Act respecting labour standards

It is essential to be aware of this law and know that it can be protected. It thus aims to ensure humane working environments. Since January 1, 2019, , be aware that the employer, thanks to this law, is under the obligation to prevent and put an end to situations of psychological harassment within its means. He must make his employees aware of the need to respect others, listen to them, and create a pleasant working environment. If a complaint reaches him, he must investigate and punish the perpetrators of harassment. Nevertheless, if the employee is not listened to or is harassed by the employer himself, it is advisable to contact an employment lawyer. Be aware that if the employee files a complaint of harassment in the workplace, the employer will be held responsible.

concept of prevention of psychological harassment in the workplace


Be careful not to overinterpret certain cases. The employer has the right to manage and reprimand his staff as long as it is not humiliating and abusive. A work conflict, a difference of opinion, should not be confused with disrespect. And we must be careful not to misinterpret normal, healthy behaviour. The sensitivity should not override rational analysis. Seeking advice from an employment lawyer can help understand a situation on its own merits.


Since the Act respecting Labour Standards was enacted, numerous decisions have been rendered attesting to the validity of legislation on the subject.


When to call a lawyer specialized in psychological harassment at work?

If you believe you are a victim of psychological harassment in the workplace, you should know that our law firm, Sabbagh & Associé, can help you. Following the study of your situation, we can develop a plan of action for legal action if necessary.


N.B. This article does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. It only informs about certain aspects of the law related to psychological harassment in the workplace.