Home » 41-1 ( 1986) » L'obligation de civilité du salarié

L'obligation de civilité du salarié

Claude D'Aoust, Sylvain Saint-Jean et Gilles Trudeau


Les auteurs cherchent à mettre en évidence les relations interpersonnelles qui naissent à l'occasion de l'exécution du travail et à montrer à quelles normes les parties au contrat de travail doivent se conformer dans ces relations


This essay deals with the employee's so-called «ability to get along» and its correlative «duty to cooperate». The obligation to perform agreed tasks is the fundamental object of the employment contract; however, the authors stress the employee's relations with third parties — fellow workers, management representatives and customers — and the effect his unsatisfactory behaviour may have on his own performance or that of the group he has to work with. (Relationships with customers are ignored for the present purposes; in this respect, attention is drawn to footnote 5).

The common approach — derived from the civil law (and for that matter the common law) concept of master and servant — conceives the duty to perform adequately as one person's obligation towards another. However, such a reasoning conceals the interdependance of individual tasks performed in a social environment, whether or not it stems from the division of labour.

Part One recollects the main features of group and individual behaviour in a social context. Social psychology teaches that such groups develop various norms of conduct and that individual deviation may generate rejection of the employee and even, work havoc in an environment otherwise peaceful and harmonious. Therefore, a newcomer has a duty to accomodate himself to fellow employees and to keep behaving in accordance with the group's expectations. This obligation, we believe, is inherent to the nature of the employment contract as determined by article 1024 of Civil code.

Of course, there are limits to the demands that a group may impose on an individual, the most important being set by the law, especially statutes protecting human rights and prohibiting specifie infringements, for instance sexual harassment. The current state of the law is developed in Part Two, as it evolved in judicial and arbitral decisions and also in statutory provisions. Emphasis is put on Quebec law, with occasional reference to federal and other provincial law. Our analysis, we believe, is readily transposable in both legal Systems.