Employment & Human Rights

HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE

Employees have a right to work in an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. The BC Human Rights Code is the legislation/law in B.C. which which protects this right. The Code applies to all businesses, agencies, and services provided in British Columbia.

In B.C., it is against the law to discriminate against and/or harass an employee on the basis of:
  • race, ancestry, place of origin
  • religion
  • marital status
  • family status
  • physical or mental disability
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • political belief
  • criminal conviction
  • political belief

Discrimination can occur in a variety of ways but can generally be described as treatment that is distinct to the personal characteristics (i.e. ethnicity/age/religion) of an individual or group, which has the effect of imposing disadvantages that is not imposed upon others, or which limits access to opportunities and benefits that are available to others.

Discrimination can be obvious and blatant. It can also be covert and subtle. For example, your employer implements a workplace policy or rule that appears to apply equally to all workers. However, it soon becomes apparent that it has an adverse effect on you because of your disability, religion, or other protected ground. Because your employment experience has been adversely affected relative to other employees who do not share your personal and protected characteristic, the Code imposes a duty on the employer to accommodate you to the point of undue hardship.

If the employer cannot demonstrate that it accommodated the employee to the point of undue hardship, the employer may have discriminated against the employee.

Harassment can also take many forms. Generally speaking, harassment includes inappropriate behaviour or words made or said with the intent of humiliating or offending. Examples of harassment includes unwelcome physical contact and communication that is sexist, racist, derogatory.

Zoe advances human rights before human rights tribunals and the courts.

If you believe your employer is treating you in a discriminatory manner, please talk to a lawyer about your options.

WRONGFUL DISMISSAL

Being terminated is an awful experience. Understanding your rights helps you identify when you have been mistreated and provides you with confidence to assert your rights.

Termination of employment can occur in two ways – lawfully or wrongfully. Employers have a right to terminate employees but they also have an obligation to carry it out responsibly and lawfully.

Wrongful dismissal describes a circumstance where the employer’s manner of termination has breached the employment agreement. The actual reason for dismissal may be valid, but if the amount of notice provided is insufficient, the dismissal may be wrongful.

The following are some of the most common examples of wrongful dismissal:
  • an employee is terminated without cause and without reasonable notice;
  • an employee is terminated without cause and without any notice; and
  • employer wrongly alleges cause for termination.

Whether you are a part-time, full-time, temporary or permanent employee, your employment relationship is governed by the terms of the employment contract that you entered into with your employer. Whether written or not, most employment relationships require employers to provide employees with advance notice (or payment in lieu) of termination.

Why are employers required to provide notice? The law recognizes that employees need time to prepare for the end of their employment and seek out other employment opportunities. When employers fail to provide advance notice (or payment in lieu), they expose themselves to a claim of wrongful dismissal.

If you have been terminated, and you believe it may have been wrongful – consider speaking to Zoe about your circumstances and options.