Canada and particularly the province of Quebec are generally
known to be "friendly" towards the rights of the LGBT
community, including within the realm of employment.
It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court of Canada held
in 1995 that although sexual orientation was not specifically
listed as a ground for discrimination in the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms1 (hereafter the Canadian
Charter), it nonetheless constituted an analogous ground on
which claims of discrimination may be based2. The same
Court went further three years later in deciding that provincial
human rights legislation that omitted the ground of sexual
orientation violated the Canadian Charter3.
In the province of Quebec, fundamental human rights and freedoms
are provided for in the Charter of human rights and
freedoms4 (hereafter the Charter), which
came into force in June 1976 and was granted quasi-constitutional
status5. The Charter is applicable to every
matter that comes under the legislative authority of
Quebec6 : therefore, employment relationships in
enterprises falling under provincial jurisdiction are bound to
respect the Charter.
at first, sexual orientation was not mentioned in the
Charter but that changed in 1977 when Quebec became the
first province in the country to officially forbid discrimination
based on sexual orientation7. Since then, if an employee
or candidate to employment feels he has been discriminated against
on the ground of sexual orientation, he may file a complaint before
the "Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la
jeunesse du Quebec8" (hereafter the Commission). If
the Commission chooses to intervene, it has different processes
whereby it will try to settle the matter out of court. However, if
this proves to be impossible, the Commission may ultimately
represent the complainant before the Human Rights Tribunal where it
will have to establish a prima facie case of
As for employees who happen to work in a federally-regulated
environment, the Canadian Human Rights Act9
(hereafter the Act) was amended in 1996 to explicitly include
sexual orientation as one of the prohibited grounds of
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (hereafter Canadian
Commission) is the body responsible to receive and investigate
complaints based on the Act and will be impartial throughout the
dispute resolution process. Here also, it will try to settle the
matter out of court at the earliest opportunity. However, if this
proves to be impossible, it will refer the complaint to the
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. While not representing any of the
parties involved in the litigation, the Canadian Commission may
choose to represent the public interest if the situation has the
potential to clarify human rights law in Canada.
 The Constitution Act, 1982, Schedule B to
the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11, s. 15
 Egan v. Canada,  2 S.C.R.
 Vriend v. Alberta,  1 S.C.R.
 Québec, Charter of Human Rights and
Freedoms, CQLR c C-12
 Idem, s. 52
 Idem, s. 55
 Idem, s. 10
 Idem, s. 74
 Canadian Human Rights Act, RSC 1985, c
 Idem, s. 3
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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