Sanction for Sexual Behaviour towards a Colleague

While courts give leeway to the sanction imposed by discipline panels, they will intervene in exceptional circumstances, particularly where the order appears to be disproportionate. An interesting example of this is found in the case of Dansereau c. Médecins (Ordre professionnel des), 2022 QCTP 33 (CanLII), <>.

In that case, the registrant was a physician who was almost forty years older than a young secretary. Over a period of more than two months, there were instances in which the registrant displayed undue attention to the secretary, including touching her hand. The attention culminated when the registrant called the secretary into his office, closed the door, said that he was attracted to her, held her arms and kissed her neck. The secretary immediately reported the incident and the registrant resigned from the practice. The Court upheld the finding that this conduct amounted to failing to act beyond reproach.

However, the Court reduced the suspension from 15 months to seven months. In doing so, the Court was concerned that the analogous cases relied upon by the discipline panel had much more serious facts than the current case. The Court also observed that cases that were more analogous to the current case resulted in much lower suspensions. The Court was also concerned that the hearing panel characterized the matter as sexual harassment without explaining why it met that standard, and even though that terminology had not been alleged. The Court also said that it was inappropriate to compare sanctions in cases involving the sexual abuse of patients with unprofessional conduct towards a staff person. The Court still imposed a suspension near the high end of the range for similar cases because of the circumstances, including the power differential, and recognizing that sanctions were trending higher because of the increased recognition of the seriousness of such conduct.

Circumstances matter.

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