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Human Rights & Discrimination

Employers must guard against workplace discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying claims.  Failure to properly address these claims can expose employers to significant liability and costly negative publicity.  

Discrimination can plague any workplace and comes in many forms.  Every workplace should be free from all forms of discrimination, and employers are responsible for ensuring that complaints of discrimination are addressed and resolved appropriately.

Human Rights Legislation in Canada protects employees and contractors from discrimination on the basis of certain attributes, called protected grounds.  Discrimination against any employee or consultant in whole or in part relating to a protected ground can have severe consequences for employers.

Protected Grounds include:

  • Age
  • Ancestry, colour, race
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • Place of origin
  • Creed
  • Disability
  • Family status
  • Marital status (including single status)
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Receipt of public assistance (housing only)
  • Record of offences (employment only)
  • Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • Sexual orientation.

What must employers do?

Employers have a duty to prevent discrimination in the workplace.  This includes responding to claims of discrimination, investigating complaints and avoiding discriminatory practices.  Employers are also required to accommodate employees with concerns relating to a protected ground, to the point of undue hardship.

The proper response to any claim of discrimination will depend on the circumstances and will usually require consultation with an experienced employment lawyer.  The best practice for all workplaces is to put in place effective policies and practices that help to minimize the risk of discrimination.

Common mistakes by employers include using discriminatory hiring practices or workplace policies, dismissing an employee at least in part due to a protected ground, or reprising against a worker that makes a discrimination complaint.  These types of actions can result in repercussions for employers that could otherwise be avoided.

How can Whitten & Lublin, Employment & Labour Lawyers help?

The Team at Whitten & Lublin can assist employers to:

  1. Defend human rights, discrimination and pay equity claims;
  2. Understand their obligations under human rights and pay equity laws and other statutory requirements;
  3. Ensure diversity and inclusion requirements are properly set up and managed;
  4. Responding to employee claims of discrimination, harassment and bullying; and
  5. Investigating workplace claims of misconduct.

Ensure your rights are protected by consulting with one of Canada’s leading Employment & Labour Law Firms.