On July 25, 2016, the British Columbia government passed the first reading of Bill 27, or the Human Rights Code Amendment Act.
If the Bill passes into law (which it is widely expected to do), it will amend the Human Rights Code to add “gender identity or expression” to provisions prohibiting discrimination in :
- Publications (s.7);
- Accommodation, service and facility (s.8);
- Purchase of property (s. 9);
- Tenancy (s.10);
- Employment advertisements (s. 11);
- Employment (s. 13); and
- Membership in unions or associations (s. 14).
These amendments are welcome changes to our current legislation. In the past transgendered people have successfully filed complaints of discrimination with the BC Human Rights Tribunal under “gender” (see Dawson v. Vancouver Police Board (No. 2), 2015 BCHRT 54 where the complainant was successful in her complaint against the VPB, and where the Tribunal found that “the VPB has engaged in systemic discrimination of trans people concerning their identification”). However, the new amendments clarify the Code and clearly communicate to the public that discrimination against transgendered persons is not to be tolerated.
A complete copy of the Bill is available for reading here.
With these changes, transgendered people are now unquestionably entitled to the same protections as other groups, including reasonable accommodation in the workplace. For employers, thought should be given as to whether policy or practice changes are needed in areas such as bathroom use or bullying and harassment. This may also be an ideal time for staff education and training around gender identity.