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The Role of Discrimination Paws in the Workplace

The Alberta Human Rights Act (AHR Act) prohibits discrimination in employment based on the protected grounds of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religious beliefs, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, family status, source of income, and sexual orientation. (You can read more about the protected grounds.) Employers are expected to create an inclusive workplace that respects the dignity of every individual. Employees can play an important role in creating an inclusive workplace by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the AHR Act.

Employees have the right to:

  • work in a respectful, inclusive work environment free of discrimination
  • be accommodated based on their needs related to the protected grounds in the AHR Act
  • make a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission if they believe discrimination occurred based on a protected ground under the AHR Act

Employees are responsible for:

  • carrying out the duties of their position
  • complying with workplace rules, regulations, policies and legislation
  • informing the supervisor or manager of any discriminatory behaviour
  • treating clients, coworkers and the public with respect and dignity
  • ensuring that they do not participate in discriminatory conduct based on a protected ground
  • informing the employer of their needs for accommodation based on the protected grounds under the AHR Act

The AHR Act works to ensure that the workplace is free of discrimination in all aspects of the employment process, including recruitment, promotions, assignments, and the termination of employment. Employers have the primary obligation under the AHR Act. Employees have a responsibility to help employers create a workplace free of discrimination, and to cooperate with and participate in the employer’s attempts to accommodate the employee’s needs that are protected under the Act.

Employers, jointly with employees (and unions, if applicable), are responsible for taking reasonable steps to accommodate employees’ needs related to the protected grounds. Employers are required to provide accommodation to the point of undue hardship. You can read more about accommodation and undue hardship.

Employees requiring accommodation need to cooperate with the employer to find a workable option. Employees are expected to cooperate with the employer in accommodating coworkers. For example, if an employee is on light duties because of a disability, other employees may be asked to carry out certain tasks that the employee with the disability is unable to do.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that the work environment is free from discrimination based on the protected grounds. Employees are responsible for ensuring they do not participate in discriminatory behaviour. For example, employees should not make offensive jokes or comments based on a coworker’s race, gender or any other protected ground under the AHR Act.