Given that race is a protected ground under human rights legislation, workers who believe they have been discriminated against in the workplace because of their race can file a complaint against that employer. This is true even if the person taking the legal action is not a part of a minority group. A Caucasian man who works for the Canada Revenue Agency took such action. Despite feeling he was a lock for a management position in his office, the man was made aware that a woman or member of a visible minority would get the promotion.
Following that alleged incident the man filed a lawsuit against the CRA. In it he claimed the Employment Equity Act was used by his employer to give the job to someone from one of four identified groups: a worker who was disabled, aboriginal, a visible minority or female. Specifically he said his employer overlooks employees who have a higher skill level to hire workers from those categories who are "mostly qualified." In support of his case he provided evidence of the CRAs hiring. That evidence indicates that for at least 12 years the man had boasted about exceeding the national hiring requirements.
It is not yet clear what the outcome of this case will be. A judge will rule on the matter soon.
There are many things that employers need to keep in mind when hiring or promoting employees. The interplay between human rights laws and employment equity legislation may be confusing for an employer to navigate and we recommend seeking advice early to avoid costly disputes from arising. An employment lawyer can help make sure a company's hiring processes comply with the law. When companies face litigation regarding their hiring practices a lawyer can also be of assistance is resolving the matter.