Human Rights* legislation provides protection, procedures and remedies for those who have experienced discrimination and harassment. Discrimination* is any differential treatment, whether in the form of harassment, unequal pay for the same or similar work, hate propaganda etc. It is when an individual, or group of people, have been singled out and treated negatively or differentially than others due to group characteristics such as race, colour, religious belief or sexual orientation.
In Canada there is both federal (Canadian Human Rights Act*) and provincial (British Columbia Human Rights Code*) human rights legislation. The application depends on which level of government regulates a specific area. This means protection from discrimination and harassment in the public (not private) legal areas of our lives, including:
- employment (including recruitment, hiring, job assignment, termination, pat rates, conditions of work and termination)
- membership in trade unions and occupational, or professional associations
- services and facilities that are customarily available to the public
- purchase of property
- hate propaganda (including any publication or display of any notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that is not private and is likely to expose a person or group to hatred or contempt)
Human rights claims can be made regarding employment that is legal in nature. Escort services, dating services, massage parlours, health enhancement centres and body-rub parlours are legal in nature and subject to city by-laws. Being employed by another person to engage in sex work is considered pimping, or “procuring,” as well as “living off the avails” and is illegal, therefore sex workers employed illegally are not protected by human rights legislation under the current law in Canada.
Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the group characteristics that are protected from discrimination (ground of discrimination) are:
- national or ethnic origin
- sex (including sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and transphobic discrimination)
- sexual orientation
- marital status and family status
- conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.
In BC, under our legislation the group characteristic that is protected depends on the area of protection. The protected areas are:
- public services & accommodation
- purchase of property
In order to file a human rights complaint, there must be:
- adverse differential treatment, such as discrimination or harassment, taking place
- a connection between this treatment and a protected ground of discrimination listed in the legislation
- discrimination occurring in a public arena listed in the legislation