In any employment dispute between an employer and an employee, the outcome is never predetermined. It is possible that either side could secure a ruling in its favour. That said, there are various reasons that at various points one side might be more likely to succeed than the other.
When employees in British Columbia feels that they were victims of discrimination in the workplace, they may be able to file a human rights complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, or with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Although it is not a universal practice, many employers require employees to sign an employment contract at the time of hire. Employment contracts may be short or long and detailed. Longer contracts may address a variety of topics including health benefits, code of conduct, vacation, sick leave and internal complaint or grievance procedures. In addition, it could cover employee behavior after an employment relationship has ended, with non-compete provisions that set a period of time during which the former employee cannot get a job with a competitor. It could also address what an employee is allowed to do with proprietary information.
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.
Readers may be aware that there are laws in place in Canada that prohibit discrimination based on gender. Under those laws, among other things, the compensation a worker receives cannot be negatively impacted as a result of one’s gender. Sometimes claims filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commissions alleging discriminatory behavior are accepted and a case commences. Other times however, they are denied. It is important that employees in this situation recognize that a denial by the CHRC is not necessarily the end of the process. A recent Federal Court of Appeal ruling illustrates this.
There are multiple grounds upon which employees and prospective employees assert complaints of discrimination in employment. While these claims mostly arise during the course of - or at the conclusion of - the employment relationship, they can also arise during the hiring process. A man in a BC community recently asserted that he was discriminated against on the basis of a mental disability when he applied and interviewed for a chief administrative officer position in that community.
Each day incidents arise at the workplace which may require an employer to investigate formally the allegations which arise. An alleged violation of human rights law and bullying and harassment complaints are where workplace investigations commonly arise, as well as in certain statutorily mandated situations. When an employer learns of allegations of bullying and harassment, human rights violations, or workplace safety issues in particular, it is prudent to commence an independent investigation as soon as possible.
Employers have a duty to accommodate workers who are disabled, up to the point of undue hardship or where a bona fide occupational requirement (BFOR) exists. The situations in which an accommodation must be granted vary depending on the specifics surrounding the disability and the accommodation sought. Failure to accommodate a worker could result in legal action and a human rights complaint.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue which can have serious ramifications for employers and workers if it goes unaddressed. At present, the issue has arisen in Canada regarding the sexual harassment female chefs face in the workplace.
Canadian and British Columbian workers are provided certain protections at law and expect certain things from their employers. For unionized workers, a union negotiates on behalf of its members to protect their interests during collective bargaining, and represents employees in disputes with their employer. However, when negotiations don't go well and one side or the other is dissatisfied, either side can take action in an attempt to increase their negotiating power: the workers by striking and the employer by instituting a lockout.