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Canada: Equal opportunities

Updating author: Sharaf Sultan, Sultan Lawyers
Original author: Miller Thomson

See the legal services provided by the author of XpertHR International > Canada, including any discounts/offers for subscribers.


  • The overriding objective of human rights legislation is to secure equal treatment with respect to employment without regard to personal traits such as race and sexual orientation, which are known as "protected grounds of discrimination". (See General)
  • The principal exemption to the prohibition of discrimination in employment on the protected grounds is where the discriminatory rule or practice is a "bona fide occupational requirement". (See Exemptions)
  • Every employee has the right to be free from harassment in the workplace on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. (See Harassment and sexual harassment)
  • All human rights legislation includes a prohibition of reprisals or threats of reprisals against employees exercising their rights pursuant to the legislation. (See Victimisation)
  • Most jurisdictions exempt affirmative action programmes designed to address systemic discrimination from the prohibition of discrimination in employment on protected grounds. (See Positive action)
  • Employees who feel that they have been discriminated against may file a claim in court, file an application or complaint with a labour board/arbitrator or human rights tribunal/commission, or file a grievance with their employer, depending on the circumstances of their employment. (See Remedies and penalties)