Employees in Canada are entitled to freedom from discrimination in the workplace, related to a number of grounds:
- Place of origin;
- Illness or disability;
- Family status;
- Sexual orientation;
- Harassment based upon any of the foregoing grounds; and
- Sexual harassment.
Employers are not permitted to take any adverse or prejudicial action against an employee because of any of these grounds. This applies to hiring decisions, firing decisions, promotions, bonuses, discipline, wages and benefits. Essentially any job related decision that is based, in whole or in part, on a protected human rights ground, is a form of discrimination.
Employees are also entitled to protection from discriminatory acts made by customers and other employees.
What must employers do?
Once an employer is made aware of a human rights or discrimination allegation they must take steps to remedy this behaviour. This can include initiating an investigation and ensuring that no further discrimination occurs. Further, if an employee makes a human rights or discrimination complaint, an employer must make sure that there are no retaliatory actions against the employee as a result. This is known as a reprisal and it is illegal. For example, it would be illegal for an employer to terminate or discipline an employee for bringing forward an allegation of discrimination.
What can you do if you are subjected to discrimination?
Employers have a positive legal obligation to put an end to any form of discrimination, but they must be made aware of it. Remaining silent usually only makes the situation worse. You need to voice your concerns. Keep in mind that employees can’t be subject to any form of retaliation for complaining of a human rights violation or a form of discrimination.
Employees who are subjected to discrimination have additional legal protections. The doctrine of constructive dismissal permits some employees to leave work and sue for damages, including human rights violations, and employees have the right to advance a provincial or federally regulated human rights claim. Human rights adjudicators can award damages for lost wages, damages for pain and suffering and in some cases, even reinstatement.
How can Whitten & Lublin Employment & Labour Lawyers help?
Navigating a human rights or discrimination matter can be difficult. You need an advocate that knows the law and has successfully pursued these matters before. This is where the lawyers at Whitten & Lublin can help. We routinely advocate for clients who are discriminated in the workplace and we have filed and pursued numerous human rights claims before provincial and federal human rights tribunals.
If you are mistreated at work due to a personal characteristic, or you feel that you have a claim for discrimination, don’t settle for less. Call Whitten & Lublin’s discrimination and human rights lawyers now for a legal consultation.