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What is reprisal?

BC’s new Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) aims to protect public sector employees who wish to speak up about wrongdoing related to their organization by prohibiting acts of retaliation, called reprisal.

Reprisal includes any action taken by management, peers or any other person which negatively impacts an employee’s employment or working conditions where that action was taken because an employee sought advice about making a report, reported wrongdoing or cooperated with an investigation under the law.

Reprisal can take many forms and may include:

•   a change in hours or work location
•   harassment, bullying or threats
•   reprimand, suspension, demotion, layoff or dismissal
•   counselling another to take any of these measures

It is an offence to take, threaten to take, counsel, or direct reprisal against an employee.

Reprisal is an offence

It is also an offence under PIDA to take reprisal against a contractor because the contractor or their employees cooperated with an investigation. Reprisal measures against contractors include terminating a contract, withholding payment or refusing to enter into a subsequent contract.

Under PIDA, the Ombudsperson cannot investigate reprisal complaints from contractors. Contractors should speak with their lawyer if their government contract is affected following cooperation with an investigation.