Human Rights and Disability Law

Human Rights Lawyer

Workers in British Columbia are subject to a wide array of legal protections, including the rights to receive a fair basic wage and to work in a safe environment.

Experienced human rights lawyers serving Vancouver and Western Canada

Perhaps the most fundamental employee protections are those contained in the BC Human Rights Code, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on certain grounds. An employer may not fire you, or refuse to hire or promote you, based on any of the following:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Political belief
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Criminal conviction (if it relates to a matter unrelated to your employment)
  • Indigenous identity
  • Gender identity or expression

Examples of employment-related discrimination include an employer refusing to hire you because of concerns that you are too old for the job, or that your young family may interfere with your availability for work (family status). This is known as direct discrimination. The Code also protects you against indirect discrimination: employment policies or practices that are not obviously discriminatory but tend to place a greater burden on employees who are members of a protected group. For example, a change in an employer’s daily hours of operation might interfere with single parents’ ability to find suitable daycare for their children. In such cases, the employer must make reasonable efforts to accommodate these employees.

Leading human rights lawyers

Employees regularly seek our advice on possible workplace discrimination. If we believe a human rights violation has occurred, we can help you file a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal and resolve your claim through settlement or at a hearing.

Have questions about workplace human rights? Contact us!

Human Rights Lawyer

Frequently asked questions

  • What kind of conduct is regulated by human rights law in B.C.?

    The British Columbia Human Rights Code applies to all businesses, agencies and services in B.C. except those regulated by the federal government.  All people are protected from discrimination at work, in a store or restaurant, in a residential tenancy or in accessing services customarily available to the public on the basis of what are called “protected characteristics”.  These include age, race, sex, ancestry, colour, family status, religion or religious belief, gender identity or expression, mental or physical disability, Indigenous identity, political belief and sexual orientation.  In the area of tenancy discrimination on the basis of source of income is also prohibited. 

  • What kinds of remedies can be awarded for breaches of human rights?

    The BC Human Rights Tribunal has broad powers to remedy instances of discrimination contrary to the Code.  It can order that an offending party cease and desist in its conduct, impose steps or programs to address the discrimination, compensate a claimant for lost wages and expenses and provide compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect resulting from the discrimination.

  • What is “the duty to accommodate” mean for employers?

    Human rights law prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability.  If an employee suffers from such a disability to the extent that it affects their ability to fulfil her job duties,  the employer is required to accommodate that employee up to the point of undue hardship.  This means that employers must make reasonable attempts to modify the work site, the nature of the duties to be performed or change certain conditions or hours of work so as to allow the employee to continue to work. 


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