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Workplace discrimination against LGBTQ workers not always obvious

Workplace discrimination is not always obvious. According to a study on Canada's workforce that was recently conducted, this is particularly true for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.

Driven by the desire to making workplaces better for LGBTQ workers, a workplace psychology researcher recently looked at the efficacy of the Ontario Human Rights Code. In fact, the man found that micro-aggression against these individuals occurs all too often. While this study focused on the human rights legislation of another province, it is easy to see how the result could be the same in British Columbia.

Multiple actions constitute micro-aggression, including:

  • Exclusion from group functions
  • Failing to use the name or pronoun a person identifies with
  • Not providing access to resources others enjoy the use of

The researcher indicates there are things that can be done to make the workplace experience better for these individuals. The first is for an employer to put into place a policy that lays out how it follows the province's human rights legislation. Once it is implemented, it must be enforced.

Taking these steps could be advantageous to all involved. Respectful Workplace policies that all employees are trained on and that receive support from Senior Managment can make workplaces more hospitable for everyone, including members of the LGBTQ community so that going to work is not difficult in that regard. Elmininating overt or subtle discrimination in the workplace may increase workplace satisfaction and reduce employee turnover. In addition, their creation and use could also prevent legal action from being taken against an employer, ranging from human rights complaints, to claims for compensation for bullying and harassment from WorkSafeBC.

Many employers require assistance and guidance when dealing with discrimination issues that arise in the workplace. Our lawyers at Overholt Law have experience in advising on these issues and we encourage you to get in touch with us if you or your organization requires advice in this area.

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