At Singh & Guthrie, we know that discrimination is a topic that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But, it's an important topic to be knowledgeable about, both for employees and employers.
Naturally, as an employee, you'll want to know how you can protect yourself from possible discrimination.
And for you employers out there, you'll not only want to protect your interests, but you'll also want to be as fair to your employees, and prospective employees, as possible.
That's why both employees and employers must be able to distinguish between prohibited discrimination, and permitted discrimination.
It may surprise you to learn that there are some cases in which discrimination is actually permitted by law. On the surface, this sounds awful, but in fact, there are certain extenuating circumstances in which discrimination is indeed allowed.
But first, let's discuss the types of discrimination that are absolutely not permissible.
These are probably the types of discrimination that come to mind when you think of that word.
Human rights laws across Canada prohibit discrimination against individuals in firing, hiring, or employment terms and conditions, based on certain personal characteristics. These include:
- National or ethnic origin, race, ancestry, place of origin, or colour
- Physical or mental disability
- Religion, creed, or political beliefs
- Sex, sexual orientation or pregnancy
- Age (with the exception of seniors in certain cases, and of minors)
- Marital or family status
Sometimes, though, discrimination based on the above grounds is permissible. This happens when there is a 'bona fide' and reasonable occupational requirement for certain characteristics.
These are basically characteristics that are considered 'reasonably necessary' in order to safely and efficiently perform the job in question.
This is sort of discrimination in name only, and not in spirit. The idea is that one of the above characteristics would make it impossible for the person in question to perform the job in question without hindering the business, or putting him or herself, or others, in danger.