Protection against reprisal

Reprisal means any harmful measure against a person who made a disclosure or cooperated in an audit or investigation stemming from the disclosure. Threats or bullying to prevent someone from speaking out about a wrongdoing or from cooperating in an audit or investigation are also considered reprisal.

In matters of employment, the following are considered reprisal:

  • Demotion,
  • Suspension,
  • Dismissal,
  • Displacement,
  • All other disciplinary measures that hinder performance of the job or working conditions.

Have you suffered reprisal? You can file a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman.

The Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies prohibits reprisal against a person who in good faith made a disclosure or cooperated in an audit or investigation further to a disclosure. Threatening or bullying someone to prevent them from making a disclosure or cooperating in an audit or investigation is also prohibited.

Reprisal is an offence. Anyone found guilty is liable to a fine ranging from $2,000 to $20,000. The fine can reach $10,000 to $250,000 for businesses, associations or legal persons.

Note that if you speak out about a wrongdoing publicly or through the media, the Act will not protect you against reprisal, unless the situation is urgent and under certain conditions. See the How am I protected? section for more details. 

Anytime you feel that you have suffered reprisal stemming from the disclosure of a wrongdoing, you can file a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman and we will refer you to the appropriate recourse.

Reprisal may be related to your employment conditions, in which case, it is the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) that will handle your complaint. You must file the complaint within 45 days of the action taken against you. In some cases, you can also go to your union.

If the Québec Ombudsman decides to conduct an administrative investigation and concludes that the person has indeed suffered reprisal, it recommends corrective action. It sends its recommendations to the highest ranking administrative official within the public body concerned, or if the circumstances warrant it, to the minister responsible for the public body.

When the Québec Ombudsman decides to carry out a penal investigation and, after investigation, considers that the evidence is sufficient, it forwards the file to the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions so that the possibility of prosecution can be assessed.

Anyone found guilty of such an offence is liable to a fine ranging from $2,000 to $20,000. The fine can reach $10,000 to $250,000 for businesses, associations or legal persons. These fines may be doubled for subsequent offences.

See the Handling of reprisal complaints section for further information.

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