Both the British Columbia and the Federal Government have
recently introduced legislation to amend their respective human
rights legislation to include gender identity and gender expression
among the protected grounds of discrimination. These amendments
will mean that individuals will have a right under the respective
legislation to make a complaint if they have been discriminated
against because of their gender identity or expression, including
in employment settings.
Federally regulated employers and employers in British Columbia
should review and update their policies on non-discrimination to
ensure that these two new prohibited grounds of discrimination are
British Columbia's Human Rights Code Amendment Act,
2016, S.B.C. 2016, c.26 was passed on July 25, 2016 and came
into force on July 28, 2016 whereas the Federal Bill C-16 passed
first reading in the House of Commons on May 17, 2016 and has yet
to become law.
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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.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
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.
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