"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Law on Human Rights and Employment in Nova Scotia: Part II

It's only been six months since I promised a Part II to The Law on Human Rights and Employment post. But it's not like anyone is actually keeping track, right?

Anyway, let's dust off that old post and continue our discussion about human rights in the employment context.

Keeping in mind that we are discussing only the Nova Scotia process. Each province has it's own human rights legislation and there is also a Canadian Human Rights Act which would govern employers in those businesses which have been found to come under federal jurisdiction. And although the basics are the same, the legislation will differ a bit in each jurisdiction.

We already know that in order to claim discrimination under Nova Scotia's Human Rights Act, it is necessary to bring yourself within one of the enumerated grounds under the Act, which we looked at here.

"Discrimination" is defined in sec. 4 of the Act as
... [making] a distinction, whether intentional or not, based on a characteristic, or perceived characteristic ... that has the effect of imposing burdens, obligations or disadvantages on an individual or a class of individuals not imposed on others which withholds or limits access to opportunities, benefits and advantages available to other individuals or classes of individuals in society.
There is a duty on an employer not to discriminate against an employee or potential employee right from the beginning. Thus, for example, there is an onus on the employer to make sure that a job interview is held in an accessible place ie) wheelchair accessible, if necessary.

If a person can show that disability was even one factor that played a small role in the decision not to offer employment or to terminate a person's employment, that person (referred to as "the claimant") will have met the burden of what we legal types like to call a prima facie case .

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