A psychologist specializing in domestic and psychological violence fired for harassment

Psychologist Joane Turgeon, a Quebec reference in matters of domestic and psychological violence, was fired from a management position for having harassed colleagues at work, our Bureau of Investigation has learned.

Lecturer at the University of Montreal, expert invited to the court and in several media, Joane Turgeon would have manipulated and belittled at least three women who worked alongside her at SOS violence conjugale, according to documents and twenty testimonies collected by our Investigation office.

“He is someone who knows the workings of violence [psychologique] and who uses them”, sums up one of our sources who, like all the others, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Internal investigation

In 2016, SOS violence conjugale commissioned an investigation by a private firm after three colleagues of Mme Turgeon had mentioned dozens of episodes of psychological harassment, which would have been spread over two years. The investigation concluded that “the situations demonstrated […]as a whole, correspond to psychological harassment”.

“Such behaviors are inappropriate in the workplace, they are hostile, unwanted and amount to vexatious conduct on the part of Ms.me Turgeon to members of his work team,” reads the report produced in 2017.


Joane Turgeon

Even before this survey, an internal survey revealed at the end of 2014 that 85% of the organization’s employees claimed to have witnessed or experienced psychological harassment from management, then occupied by Joane Turgeon.

“There are girls who were afraid of it,” says one of our sources.

“Everyone was skirting the walls to avoid the knives. It was absurd to see that, ”adds another.

Beyond the harassment observed, Joane Turgeon would have used the electronic signature of the president of the board of directors without her consent.

She would also have asked employees, during their working hours, to help her secretly in one of her disciplinary files before the Order of Psychologists, confirm testimonies and emails consulted.

Fired

Met by our Bureau of Investigation, Joane Turgeon denies having harassed colleagues (see other text). She concedes having used the signature of the president of the board of directors, but because she would have had the authorization. She acknowledges that employees worked on her case before her professional order, but that they would have done so on their own time.

Joane Turgeon was dismissed in July 2017 following the conclusions of the investigation. She filed a complaint with labor standards for wrongful dismissal, prohibited practice and psychological harassment. The parties came to a confidential agreement in November 2019. One thing is certain, Joane Turgeon never returned to her duties at SOS violence conjugale.

Despite these disturbing allegations, the psychologist, now 67, continues to pursue a high-profile career (see box).

Recently, Joane Turgeon took part in a podcast series on the controversial publisher Michel Brûlé, who died in 2021. The psychologist shares her expertise on the psychological harassment at work suffered by the author and host India Desjardins.

“What surprises me is that she still continues to teach at the University of Montreal”, plague a source.

  • Psychologist and consultant specializing in situations of domestic, family and sexual violence, as well as violence and psychological harassment in the workplace.


Although she was fired for harassing co-workers, Joane Turgeon continued to act in the media as an expert in psychological and domestic violence.  In 2019, we see her in the documentary Face the monsters.

Screenshot from the documentary “Face the Monsters”

Although she was fired for harassing co-workers, Joane Turgeon continued to act in the media as an expert in psychological and domestic violence. In 2019, we see her in the documentary Face the monsters.

  • Interviewed in the podcast Fall: Michel Brûlé (2022) and the essay Mister Big or the glorification of toxic loves (2021), by India Desjardins, in addition to the documentary Facing the monsters by Ingrid Falaise (2019).


In 2022, she participated in a podcast with host and humorist Mélanie Ghanimé.

Screenshot, Youtube

In 2022, she participated in a podcast with host and humorist Mélanie Ghanimé.

  • Author of the book Understanding Violence in Dating Relationships (2018).


Joane Turgeon also published a book in 2018.

Courtesy picture

Joane Turgeon also published a book in 2018.

  • Guest expert in court and in numerous media over the past few years, including Radio-Canada, TVA, 98.5, The Gazette and Metro.
  • Lecturer since 1993 at the University of Montreal, where she will give this fall the course “domestic and conjugal violence”.

Joane Turgeon was accused of 76 allegations of psychological harassment in connection with three workers of SOS violence conjugale. The psychologist would have:

  • assigned humiliating tasks to employees
  • made degrading comments about the work of female employees
  • asked an employee to record telephone conversations to listen to later
  • forced an employee to work in his office, at his side, for years
  • pressured employees to sign documents containing false information
  • disclosed personal information about colleagues
  • ordered employees to stay in the office after their shift

JOANE TURGEON WAS ALSO TARGETED BY

  • 9 workplace climate allegations
  • 9 allegations of wrongdoing
  • 9 allegations of shortcomings in its management
  • 4 allegations relating to his lack of cooperation during the investigation

“A coup” to push her out

Joane Turgeon denies having harassed her colleagues and insists that her dismissal is the result of a “coup” to push her out.

“I have a clear conscience. I know I’ve never harassed anyone. It didn’t happen,” pleaded Joane Turgeon, during a meeting with our Bureau of Investigation.

The ex-director of SOS violence conjugale claims instead that she herself was the victim of psychological harassment from subordinates, who allegedly lied and conspired to “get rid” of her.

“It just takes one to successfully influence a lot of people and get them to believe that the person is a monster,” she said.

Joane Turgeon recalls that she filed a complaint for psychological harassment and wrongful dismissal in the wake of her suspension. The psychologist had also begun a long testimony before the Administrative Labor Tribunal (TAT), in 2018 and 2019.

Difficult climate

During her interrogation, she had argued, among other things, that the work climate in the organization was “appalling” because of the attitude of the employees. An assertion that had startled the administrative judge.

“In a harmful work environment, the first person who is accountable is [la directrice] “, he underlined.

The administrative judge did not have to decide the case, which was settled out of court in November 2019.

before her

The former director – who says she was never able to read the report that led to her dismissal – believes that the work climate was unhealthy long before her arrival and that the situation persisted long after. Both Joane Turgeon and two people who collaborated with her in 2014 and 2015 claim that the violence came from the workers.

“That’s what I tried to deal with for years and it backfired in the end. […] And my departure was not the solution to the problem, ”she added in closing.

Too close to a client

Joane Turgeon was temporarily expelled from her professional order for befriending a client, to whom she is still very close today.

“With Joane, there were no borders. There was no space to separate work and private life. It was all mixed up,” says a woman who, like several others we spoke to, witnessed this relationship.

According to court documents, Joane Turgeon met this client in June 2006, during a psychosocial assessment of which we obtained a copy. The then 50-year-old woman — whom we cannot identify given a court order — claimed to have suffered domestic violence.

As of October 2007, the 50-year-old regularly consulted Joane Turgeon as a “worker and guide”. In 2008, the psychologist also testified in favor of her client in a family court case.

Cancellation and fine

But the relationship would have gone beyond the professional framework and ended up before the disciplinary council of the Order of Psychologists.

The trustee notably criticized Joane Turgeon for having breached her professional independence and for having placed herself in a conflict of interest by maintaining this “link of friendship”. The psychologist would have gone to the restaurant with her client, would have lent her his vehicle and would have received her on a weekend at her chalet, between 2007 and 2012.

Guilty of three disciplinary charges, the psychologist was sentenced in 2016 to a radiation of one month and a fine of $ 4,000.

“The conduct of which the Respondent is accused under each of the counts is serious and it casts umbrage on the whole of the profession”, one can read in the decision on sanction.

Heritage condo

This reprimand did not prevent Joane Turgeon from pursuing this relationship.

In September 2020, this client’s mother breathed her last. Although she had two children, the deceased bequeathed her condo in Saint-Lambert to Joane Turgeon, who uses it professionally today.

For professor specializing in ethics Julie Maheux, such a relationship can hardly be egalitarian, given that Joane Turgeon has already been in a position of authority over her client. The latter probably confided in her when she presented vulnerabilities, notes the researcher.

“That, that does not fade away […] And that necessarily tinted or gave benefit to the psychologist to develop a relationship of friendship, ”estimates Mme Maheux.

Questioned by our Bureau of Investigation, Joane Turgeon confirms that this woman is still part of his life, but denies that she was his patient.

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