Extent of Protection
Generally, human rights legislation is applicable to the following grounds: race-related grounds, creed, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, and family status. Some Canadian jurisdictions also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression, as well as discrimination based on criminal convictions that are unrelated to employment, or criminal convictions for which a pardon has been obtained.
Most jurisdictions in Canada have some form of equal pay and/or pay equity legislation to ensure that wage parity exists between male and female workers. Such measures are intended to redress systemic discrimination. Although employers are prohibited from discriminating in employment, employers are generally not required to meet any particular quota for hiring historically disadvantaged groups. Employers do, however, increasingly face claims by prospective or current employees that they have been adversely affected by systemic discrimination. Many employers in Canada have recognized the benefits of employing a diverse workforce and have therefore voluntarily created goals or guidelines designed to increase diversity.
Protections against Harassment
Harassment is defined as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, which includes sexual harassment and personal harassment. Employers are obligated to have policies in place to prevent and address harassment in the workplace.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
Employers are required to accommodate employees to the point of undue hardship. Employees are entitled to be provided with reasonable accommodation that is necessary in the circumstances. A reasonable accommodation will be one that meets the employee’s needs and does not impose undue burdens, financial or otherwise, on the employee.
Employees may seek compensation for any lost wages that resulted from an employer’s discrimination and/or failure to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. -Damages may also be awarded for the injury to an employee’s dignity, feelings and self-respect that may have been caused by the employer’s actions.