When we hear the term workplace discrimination we most often assume that it has to do with race. That is, however, only one type of discrimination. The more prevalent types of discrimination tend to be gender discrimination and age discrimination.
Discrimination is still a problem in the Canadian workplace even though there are laws such as the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code that prohibit such practices.
In addition, the individual provinces of Canada each have their own individual human rights laws and labour legislation to help regulate human behaviour in the workplace. There is also the Criminal Code that protects individuals from physical or sexual assault.
A large percentage of discrimination incidences are not being reported because not all employees know about, or understand, the laws that protect them against discrimination.
Discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee, or a group of employees, is treated differently, negatively or adversely because of their gender, race, colour, culture, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, trade union membership or activity, or any other prohibited grounds of discrimination.
In other words discrimination is any action that can be considered a violation of human rights or anti-discrimination legislation.
Discrimination can occur in a number of areas in the workplace, most often in areas you would least expect it, such as:
Complaints of discrimination against a company can have some serious consequences. As a growing number of employees learn about and start exercising their worker rights, there has been an increase in the number of discrimination cases being filed against companies.
For employers - what you don't know can hurt your company. If you disregard workplace discrimination laws, your company can face heavy legal as well as financial penalties.
In addition, there's also the risk of bad publicity, high employee turnover, and low employee morale. These in turn can negatively impact on productivity and revenue.
Discrimination in the workplace can take on many different forms such as:
Employers have a responsibility to:
Employees also have a responsibility to: