Human Rights Legislation

Human rights legislation is put in place to protect people from discrimination. It seeks to guarantee people equal treatment regardless of certain identified characteristics (called “prohibited grounds of discrimination”) that have attracted historical stereotyping or bias in relation to employment.

Employers need to be aware of human rights legislation as it applies to all practices of employment, including:
  • Recruitment ads
  • Application forms
  • Interviews
  • Hiring
  • Dismissal/termination
  • Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Benefits
  • Wages
  • Workplace harassment

It is important that employers work to create inclusive workplaces that are respectful and welcoming of diversity. Most of the sites below have excellent resources and tools that your organization can use in creating policies, in the hiring process, and in building a more diverse and respectful workforce. We encourage you to explore several of the websites below as they offer a wealth of information that can often be applied across provincial/territorial lines. Particular attention should be paid to the employer’s duty to accommodate an employee in the workplace. 

Federal legislation

Two pieces of federal legislation set the groundwork for creating workplace diversity and supporting an inclusive workplace:
  • The Employment Equity Act ensures improved job opportunities for four specific groups: women, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities and people with disabilities.
  • The Canadian Human Rights Act entitles all individuals to equal opportunities without regard to race or colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, family or marital status, sex (including pregnancy or childbirth), pardoned conviction, disability (either physical or mental, or as the result of alcohol or drug dependence) or sexual orientation.

Provincial and territorial legislation

Each province has slightly different grounds for discrimination – please review the grounds in your province or territory carefully.

Many human rights agencies across Canada have developed fact sheets, guides and policies on human rights issues. The BC Human Rights Coalition has compiled a collection of provincial, territorial and federal online resources relating to human rights.


The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission

There is a section on this website on Human Rights in the Workplace. It includes information about workshops, an electronic newsletter, information bulletins and other resources. Some of the resources deal with pre-employment inquiries, the duty to accommodate in employment, and workplace harassment.

British Columbia

The BC Human Rights Tribunal

The BC Human Rights Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body that is responsible for accepting, screening, mediating and adjudicating human right complaints.

BC Ministry of the Attorney General – Human Rights Protection

Visit this site for more information about the Human Rights Code, including a short guide for employers.


The Manitoba Human Rights Commission

This bilingual website has some useful guidelines in the publications section that deal with human rights and employment, for example, employee benefits and pre-employment inquiries. There is also information about workshops. 

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Human Rights Commission

This bilingual website has an extensive publications section, with some publications available online. There are several publications specifically about employment, including guidelines on drug and alcohol testing and pregnancy discrimination.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador

This website has a useful frequently asked questions section with questions and answers specifically about human rights in the workplace. In the publications section there is an Employer's Guide to the Human Rights Code, and a guide about accommodation of environmental sensitivities.

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission

On this site you'll find some general information about the Act and contact information for the commission. There are instructions on making a complaints and considerations made in handling complaints.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

This site offers some general information about human rights and the complaint process. There is also an in-depth explanation of each of the grounds for protection under the Human Rights Act available in the Know Your Human Rights section.


Government of Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal website includes the actual legislation, guides and instructions for filing complaints as well as contact information for staff.


Ontario Human Rights Commission

This site has information about many of the grounds for discrimination. The home page has links to a fact sheet and a publications section. In the publications section you can find useful information related specifically to human rights at work.

Prince Edward Island

PEI Human Rights Commission

This site has some good information about human rights, especially in the Forms and Information Section. Here, you'll find online publications, including an information kit and a list of human rights resources.


Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse

This site has some good information about human rights and regular updates and publications highlighted on the home page. In the Human Rights section, you'll find answers to frequently asked questions around key issues.


Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

This site has many excellent resources, including a useful PDF Guide to Human Rights for Employers.


Yukon Human Rights Commission

This site offers information about the Human Rights Act, the grounds for discrimination and information about the commission. Click on "HR Workplaces" and you will find downloadable fact sheets on workplace issues.