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Alberta the newest province to add gender identity and gender expression to human rights legislation

Effective December 11, 2015, Alberta has added gender identity and gender expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination under its Human Rights Act.

 

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What are an employer’s human rights obligations with respect to gender identity?

Across Canada, there is a trend in human rights law to increase protections for transgendered individuals. Last year, Ontario and Manitoba joined the Northwest Territories in expressly including “gender identity” as a prohibited ground of discrimination under their human rights legislation. Ontario also included “gender expression” as a prohibited ground. In addition, Nova Scotia in 2012 added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to its Human Rights Act to protect transgendered persons from discrimination.

 

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Implicit bias in the workplace studies: The HR implications

We like to think we are all fair and objective. However, implicit bias is apparent in everyone, regardless of if you accept it or not. An Implicit Association Test by Project Implicit at Harvard Universityreminds us that while people don’t often speak their minds, we might actually not even know our minds. Are we purposely hiding something from others, or are we implicitly hiding something from ourselves? When it comes to strategic recruitment, implicit bias plays a big role. There have been countless implicit bias studies done in the field of recruitment and human resource development. Let’s take a look at a few standouts.

 

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How far can an employer go in imposing appearance-based requirements?

In the employment setting, there is a constant tension between an employer’s desire to control its image and employees’ rights to be free from discrimination and to freely express themselves. While it is generally accepted that an employer may impose appearance-based requirements if it establishes a legitimate business reason for the rule, it seems hard to believe that an employer could justify refusing to hire a person based on their physical appearance. However,…

 

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When aggression and the workplace collide

Aggression sometimes occurs in the workplace. That is a fact! And when conflicts are left unresolved, employers have employees resigning or taking tremendous amounts of sick leave to deal with these issues, or the aggression crosses the line into assault or battery, or you receive a human rights or occupational health and safety complaint.

 

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Pre-hiring accommodation

As most of us are aware, the Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in the context of employment, and applies both during the employment relationship and in the hiring process. Most of us would take it as a given that you cannot make hiring decisions based upon grounds such as race, religion, gender, or disability. However, it is not quite as widely understood that the duty to accommodate an individual applies even to those who are not yet employees.

 

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A broader view of workplace diversity

Workplace diversity efforts often focus on employees’ gender, race and ability. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants wants to broaden employers’ horizons and help them see the larger picture of diversity. “The concept of diversity encompasses factors including age, culture, personality, skill, training, educational background and life experience. The influence of a variety of perspectives and viewpoints can contribute to flexibility and creativity within organizations, which can help them thrive in a complex and competitive global economy.”

Is she suggesting organizations hire unskilled and inexperienced workers with poor personalities? Probably not.

 

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Breastfeeding at work

Across Canada, human rights legislation protects people from discrimination and harassment based on sex/gender; this protection includes pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is illegal to discriminate because a woman is pregnant. It is also illegal to discriminate because a woman was pregnant, had a baby or might become pregnant.

 

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