Frequently asked questions
What is human rights law?
Human Rights Law is a broad area of law that prohibits discrimination or adverse treatment on the basis of certain inherent characteristics. These include race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, family status, sexual or gender orientation, gender identity, Indigenous identity, or any other status. In Canada, Human Rights Law is regulated both by the federal government and the laws of each province.
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.
How do I pursue a complaint in the BC Human Rights Tribunal?
If you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic you have the right to file a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal within one year of the last experience of discrimination. If the complaint is accepted by the Tribunal there is an opportunity to resolve the complaint through mediation or, if mediation is unsuccessful or inappropriate, though a full hearing where evidence is presented.
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.