Understanding Human Rights

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is the governing body that administers the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act: a provincial statute created in 1969 to protect human rights in Nova Scotia.  There are 16 protected characteristics which consist of:  age, race, colour, religion, creed, ethnic, national or aboriginal origin, sex (including pregnancy and pay equity), sexual orientation, physical disability, mental disability, family status, marital status, source of income, irrational fear of contracting an illness or disease, association with protected groups or individuals, political belief, affiliation or activity.

Recently, there has been a focus on bullying and the prohibition of sexual harassment in all areas of public life including:

  • The workplace;
  • Housing;
  • Services and facilities (such as stores, restaurants or provincially funded programs);
  • Purchase or sale of property;
  • Volunteer public service;
  • Publication, broadcast or advertisement; and
  • Membership in a professional, business or trade association, employer’s or employee’s organizationhuman-rights1

Focusing in on the workplace, all employers should have good written policies  that address harassment, bullying, and discrimination.  Expectations, accepted behaviours, and the internal complaint process to resolve dispute internally should be prevalent within the policy.  Employers should also indicate the right of employees to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

Stay tuned for our next post about the Human Rights complaint process…

If you want a review of your Harassment and Discrimination policies or have a question about harassment or discrimination in the workplace, give us a call today at 902-877-1887.

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