The British Columbia (BC) Human Rights Code (the Code) protects citizens of BC the right to exist in a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment. The Code is not limited to the workplace. This blog post only discusses discrimination in the context of the workplace.

If you believe you are being discriminated against, please read on and contact Zoe, a BC human rights lawyer.


The Code prohibits employers from discrimination against employees on protected grounds.

Discrimination can occur in a variety of ways. It’s generally described as unfair behaviour that limits a person or group of people’s access to opportunities and benefits available to others, as a direct result of a distinct personal characteristic.

It is against the law to be discriminated on any of the following protected grounds:
  • race, ancestry or place of origin;
  • religion;
  • marital status;
  • physical or mental disability;
  • sexual orientation;
  • sex or gender (including pregnancy status);
  • age (provided they are 19 years or older and permitted to work);
  • political beliefs; and/or
  • criminal conviction (if the conviction relates to an undertaking independent to your employment);
  • lawful source of income (only applies to tenancy).
These protected grounds apply to all aspects of employment. This means that your employer is, as a result of the protected grounds, prohibited from engaging in either of the following acts:
  • refusing employment;
  • denying a promotion;
  • firing you;
  • paying you less than what your job description requires; or
  • any other terms and conditions of your work, such as your benefits and your hours.
The Code protects an individual throughout the entire employment process, including:
  • in recruitment advertisements;
  • throughout the interview process;
  • during the hiring process including wage and benefit discussions;
  • have a disability concerning your working conditions; and
  • with regards to promotion and dismissals.


You were terminated from your office job because you have a second job that is more exposed to COVID-19. Or, you were terminated because you needed time off work for surgery


Harassment is a form of discrimination that involves the repeated use of words or actions with the intention of offending or humiliating a fellow employee.

The Code protects you from this form of discrimination if it relates to one of the protected grounds listed above.

While there are many ways harassment can take place, the following are examples of the most common forms of harassment:

  • uninvited sexual advances or solicitations;
  • undesired physical contact or touching;
  • unwanted jokes or comments relating to someone’s gender, sexual orientation, mental and/or racial stereotypes.
  • ted jokes or comments relating to someone’s gender, sexual orientation, mental and/or racial stereotypes.

Suppose an employee is being discriminated against or harassed. In that case, he/she is not required to prove that the person was committing the act intended to discriminate.


An employer has a duty to accommodate any of the personal characteristics protected under the Code.

While the duty to accommodate may be fulfilled in various ways, depending on the circumstances, the following examples provide ways in which an employer could accommodate a personal characteristic protected by the Code:
  • provide extra training;
  • adjust a work schedule;
  • change an employee’s duties;
  • adjust a potentially discriminatory policy


A complaint must be issued within one year of the most recent discriminatory occurrence.


The human rights of all BC employees are protected from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

No employer or employee is entitled to treat a fellow employee differently as a result of a protected personal characteristic.

Zoe appreciates that each discrimination or harassment case is sensitive and unique. Zoe is dedicated to assisting employees through the process of understanding human rights complaints and working towards the best possible resolution for you.

If you have a human rights or other workplace issue and need assistance from a human rights lawyer, contact us today!