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 are also considered reprisal.
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 whistleblower or anyone who 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.
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.
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. (Lien vers la section Faire une plainte en cas de représailles)
If, after investigating, we find that the person has indeed suffered reprisal, we recommend correction action 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.
We may also forward 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.