HR Toolkit

HR Policies & Employment Legislation

Human Rights Legislation

Human rights legislation is put in place to protect people from discrimination. It seeks to guarantee people equal treatment regardless of  certain identified characteristics (called “prohibited grounds of discrimination”) that have attracted historical stereotyping or bias in relation to employment.

Employers, including nonprofit organizations, need to be aware of human rights legislation as it applies to all practices of employment, including:

  • Recruitment ads
  • Application forms
  • Interviews
  • Hiring
  • Dismissal/termination
  • Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Benefits
  • Wages
  • Workplace harassment

As organizations strive to create a better world through their missions, it is important that they also work at creating inclusive workplaces that are respectful and welcoming of diversity. Most of the sites below have excellent resources and tools that your organization can use in creating policies, in the hiring process, and in building a more diverse and respectful workforce. We encourage you to explore several of the websites below as they offer a wealth of information that can often be applied across provincial/territorial lines.  Particular attention should be paid to the employer’s duty to accommodate an employee in the workplace. 

Related HR Management Standard:

Standard 4.3
The organization ensures a work environment free of harassment.

Standard 4.4
The organization promotes an inclusive workplace.


Federal legislation

Two pieces of federal legislation set the groundwork for creating workplace diversity and supporting an inclusive workplace:

  • The Employment Equity Act ensures improved job opportunities for four specific groups: women, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities and people with disabilities.
  • The Canadian Human Rights Act entitles all individuals to equal opportunities without regard to race or colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, family or marital status, sex (including pregnancy or childbirth), pardoned conviction, disability (either physical or mental or as the result of dependence on alcohol or drugs) or sexual orientation.


Provincial and territorial legislation

Jurisdictions: Practically all nonprofits in Canada fall under provincial/territorial jurisdiction for human rights legislation.


Each province has slightly different grounds for discrimination - please review the grounds in your province or territory carefully.

Links and Resources

Many human rights agencies across Canada have developed fact sheets, guides and policies in regards to human rights issues. The BC Human Rights Coalition has compiled a collection of provincial, territorial and federal online resources relating to human rights.


The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission

There is a whole section on this website for Human Rights in the Workplace. It includes information about workshops, an electronic newsletter, information bulletins and other resources. Some of the resources deal with pre-employment inquiries, the duty to accommodate in employment and workplace harassment.


British Columbia

The BC Human Rights Tribunal

The BC Human Rights Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body that is responsible for accepting, screening, mediating and adjudicating human right complaints.

BC Ministry of the Attorney General - Human Rights Protection

Visit this site for more information about the Human Rights Code, including a short guide for employers.



The Manitoba Human Rights Commission

This bilingual website has some useful guidelines in the publications section that deal with human rights and employment, for example, employee benefits and pre-employment inquiries. There is also information about workshops, including a workshop on human rights issues for non-profit organizations.


New Brunswick

New Brunswick Human Rights Commission

This bilingual website has an extensive publications section, some of which are available online. There are several publications specifically about employment, including two extensive sections about pre-employment inquiries and sexual harassment.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador

This website has a useful frequently asked questions section with questions and answers specifically about human rights in the workplace. In the publications section there is an Employer's Guide to the Human Rights Code, a guide about sexual harassment in the workplace and information about developing a sexual harassment policy.


Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission

On this site you'll find some general information about the act and contact information for the commission.


Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

This site offers some general information about human rights and the complaints process. There is also an in-depth explanation of each of the grounds for protection under the Human Rights Act available in the Your Rights section.



Government of Nunavut

There is little information on the Government of Nunavut site about Human Rights besides the actual legislation. For more information, please contact the Human Rights Tribunal (Toll Free: 1-866-413-6478).



Ontario Human Rights Commission

This site has information about many of the grounds for discrimination and a fact sheet section found on the home page. In the publications section you can find more useful information related specifically to human rights at work.


Prince Edward Island

PEI Human Rights Commission

This site has some good information about human rights, especially in the Human Rights Forms and Information Section. Here, you'll find online publications, including an information kit and a list of human rights resources.



Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse

This site has some good information about human rights and regular updates and publication highlighted on the homepage. In the Human Rights section, you'll find answers to frequently asked questions around key issues.



Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

This site has many excellent and useful resources including a very useful PDF Guide to Human Rights for Employers



Yukon Human Rights Commission

This site offers information about the Human Rights Act, the grounds for discrimination and information about the Commission itself. Click on "HR Workplaces" and you will find downloadable fact sheets on workplace issues.


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