BC’s 14 Protected Grounds of Discrimination

The Federal government, along with every province and territory in Canada, has human rights legislation prohibiting discrimination on grounds such as race, gender and disability in a number of public environments: tenancy, service, and employment, to name a few. 

In the employment context, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees at any time in the employment process.  This includes discrimination in advertising for positions, hiring, working conditions and through to termination and retirement.

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5 Questions to Consider When Exploring the Duty to Accommodate

The British Columbia Human Rights Code is an important piece of law that aims to foster a society in which impediments to full and free participation in the economic, social, political and cultural life of citizens are removed. Employment, as the driver of our economy, falls under the authority of the Code, and there are 14 prohibited grounds of discrimination in the workplace, including age, gender, race and place of origin.

In relation to the Human Rights Code, discrimination is considered to be negative, differential treatment on the basis of a protected ground. To take a simple example, I’m looking to hire two workers in the same position. I offer the female worker $15 an hour, and her male counterpart $20 an hour, for no reason other than gender-based stereotypes. Clearly, I am treating the female employee differently than the male employee. This is discrimination.

However, Canadian human rights law also imposes a duty to accommodate. This requires employers to ensure that persons with characteristics protected under the Code are not unfairly excluded where working conditions can be adjusted. The purpose is to remove barriers to employment and allow continued participation. The duty to accommodate has most often been applied in cases of persons with physical or mental disabilities, but has also been used in accommodating religious beliefs and parental obligations.

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The Bikini Bistro and Discrimination in the Restaurant Industry

An article recently came across my news feed that gave me pause. A new restaurant will be opening in Kamloops, BC, with a ‘unique’ dress code. As the name suggests, the Teenie Bikini Bistro will serve typical pub-style fare served by – wait for it – bikini girls.

In today’s day-in-age, how is this still a thing? And how does this pass the smell test for workplace discrimination?

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Calculating Severance : What do the Courts Say?

We’ve all heard one of the following stories… An employee in heavy industry is laid off because of a downturn in the economy… Or an office worker is let go because she doesn’t get along with her supervisor… Or a company is going through a restructuring and has to terminate a quarter of its staff.

While the creation and destruction of jobs is essential to our economy and our workplaces, people affected by job-loss are nonetheless dealing with a unique form of personal tragedy. After all, a job is not only a source of income, it contributes to our overall well-being and is an important part of our identity.

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Important Changes to BC Labour and Employment Laws

While it has been understood for some time that British Columbia’s NDP government was looking to modernize labour and employment laws, the extent of these amendments was not clear.

Well, the wait is over, as this week the provincial government formally announced its changes to the Employment Standards Act and to the Labour Relations Code, and there are important implications for unionized and non-unionized workers alike.

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Does a 4-Day Work Week Work for Your Business?

TGIF

Businesses are increasingly looking at ways to attract, retain and motivate talent. But for all the talk of ping-pong tables, bean chairs and remote offices, could one solution be as simple as restructuring the typical work week?

In a recent world-wide survey conducted by Kronos, 59% of Canadian workers indicated that they would be interested in a 3-day weekend, and nearly 30% of Canadians were ready to take a pay-cut in order to do so. But practically speaking, how would a business go about doing so?

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Why does the court process take so DAMN LONG? Actually… it doesn’t have to

Lawsuits are long, expensive and stressful.

And in most cases, I would agree with this statement. Complicated cases often require multiple trial days, which need to be booked several months or even a year in advance.  Court resources are thin and time is precious, so get in line and wait your turn.

But it doesn’t always need to be that way, especially with cases that are relatively simple or are valued at less that $100,000. It also just so happens that most employment law cases fall into one or the other of these categories. 

In my practice, with almost every new litigation file I start I aim to have the matter resolved either by settlement or court judgment within 6 months. Here are some of my strategies.


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Paradise Lost – Firing an Employee on Vacation

For some employers, the idea of firing an employee while they are away from the office – either because they are vacationing or on some leave – may be tempting. After all, it will avoid an uncomfortable scene at work, will facilitate securing electronic file material and other corporate records, and can assure confidentiality.

However, as my colleague, Samantha Stepney, writes in her most recent blog post, we recommend that you reconsider this strategy for both legal and other reasons.

To read Samantha’s full article on terminating an employee’s employment on vacation, click here.

At Kent Employment Law, we promote sustainable employment relationships. We believe that these relationships are mutually beneficial to employers and employees alike, and are founded on a relationship of trust and respect. If you have questions concerning terminations or other Employment Standards rights such as vacations, please contact one of our offices.

 

David M. Brown
Kent Employment Law
236-420-1946
david@kentemploymentlaw.com
LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/davidmjbrown
Twitter: @davidmjbrown

Rights and Obligations in a WorkSafeBC Inspection

There are few things more unsettling to employers than a surprise visit by a WorkSafeBC investigator, whatever the motivation for the inspection may be. While many managers may want to respond by telling the investigators to “get lost”, a more sensible approach starts with understanding everyone’s rights, obligations, and expectations during investigations of this nature.

 

lumber-yard-accident

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The Legalities of Criminal, Credit and Medical Checks in HR

criminal-record-CHECK-2

From time to time, I get questions from employees and companies alike about the legalities of performing various forms of background checks in the hiring process. While thankfully these issues do not come up too frequently, three forms of checks which cause particular concern are criminal record checks, credit checks, and medical checks.

While requests for this type of sensitive personal information are far more common in the United States, they continue to be applicable in Canada as well. In this article, we will examine whether these requests are legal and if so, what types of limits are associated with them. Continue reading “The Legalities of Criminal, Credit and Medical Checks in HR”