For Employees

Discrimination at Work – Rights and Remedies under the Human Rights Code

According to the Human Rights Code an employer cannot make decisions about an employee or prospective employee based on the grounds of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, age unless it can be called a “bona fide occupational requirement”.  You may be surprised to learn that this even extends to the employee having been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment.

So what is a “bona fide occupational requirement”? Essentially, it is defined as a quality or attribute that is integral to the function of a job, or would place undue hardship on an employer if it had to hire someone without it.

Courts have ruled that a bona fide occupational requirement can exist where:

  • the employer has adopted the standard for a purpose rationally connected to the performance of the job;
  • the employer has adopted the particular standard in an honest and good faith belief that it was necessary to the fulfillment of that legitimate work-related purpose; and
  • the standard is reasonably necessary to the accomplishment of that legitimate work-related purpose.

Often, the requirements for a bona fide occupational requirement could be discriminatory in other contexts. For example, an airline pilot would typically be expected to have very good eye sight. For another job, eye sight may not be integral to the job and basing an employment decision on whether someone can or cannot see could be discrimination on the basis of a physical disability.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you may be able to file a complaint based upon the Human Rights Code. With a successful human rights complaint, you may receive compensation for damages to dignity and lost wages.  Contact me today for a consultation.

This blog is produced by Waterstone Law Group LLP. This blog is intended for information purposes only and is not offered as legal advice for a specific claim. Subscription to or use of this site does not establish a solicitor – client relationship between the user and Waterstone Law Group LLP or any of the individual contributors. For advice relating to your employment law claim, please contact us to arrange for a consultation.

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