Human Rights Legislation and the Workplace
The Alberta Human Rights Act [HRA] prohibits discrimination in the workplace. Section 7 of the HRA states:
(7)(1) No employer shall
a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ any person, or
b) discriminate against any person with regard to employment or any term or condition of employment
because of race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age , ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation of that person or of any other person.
Section 7 of the HRA may be useful in situations such as: where an employer will not hire a new employee because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity; where there are other forms of discrimination at work against a person who is LGBT; where an LGBT person is terminated because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity. If you feel harassed or discriminated against, try the following:
- Ask the person to stop the behaviour or comments (if you feel safe doing so).
- Keep a record of the behaviour and comments by writing them down as they happen.
- Speak to your direct supervisor about the behaviour.
- Consider whether you want to make a formal written complaint. You will state what happened and the person allegedly doing the harassment will be notified and given a chance to respond to your allegations. The organization may investigate your allegations.
- If the organization has a human resources department, speak to a representative and gather information on the process the organization follows to make a complaint.
- If there is not a human resources department, and you want to speak to someone other than your supervisor, then talk to his/her boss or the owner of the company.
- You may call the Alberta Human Rights Commission at any time to get information about whether your concerns are covered by the HRA. However, it is best to try to resolve the complaint within your organization through communication with your supervisors and human resources.
Harassment may be caused by a poisoned work environment, co-workers, supervisors, or customers within the workplace environment. An organization is responsible for ensuring LGBT employees work in a non-discriminatory work environment. Some examples that could lead to discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity are:
- Having a policy where an employee cannot claim her same-sex partner for health benefits;
- Refusing to hire a MtF trans person because of a perception that she only wants to promote transgender rights (Montreuil v National Bank of Canada,  CHRD No. 4 (Canadian Human Rights Tribunal) [Montreuil]);
- Sexually harassing an employee who is bisexual;
- Firing a gay man because of a policy against homosexuality (Vriend v Alberta (1998), 156 DLR (4th) 385 (Supreme Court of Canada) [Vriend]);
- Letting go of a volunteer who is transsexual (Mamela v Vancouver Lesbian Connection,  BCHRTD No 51. [Mamela]); or
- Refusing to accommodate a transsexual employee’s medical needs, such as time off for surgeries.