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Human Rights For Employers

For Employers

Human rights in the workplace has received a great deal of attention in recent years, but it’s important to acknowledge that employer rights also exist. While protections are in place to ensure that employees and potential hires have safeguards against discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination, employers also have rights to protect their businesses and interests. Additionally, legislation in British Columbia and federally provides guidance for employers on how to create safe working environments and handle workplace disputes. 

As of 2023, workplace disputes between employees and employers have become more frequent than in years past. Laws and regulations are open to interpretation, and disputes are typically resolved on a case-by-case basis. Frequently, the employer may not even realize they’ve committed a human rights violation. This highlights the significance of employers understanding their rights.

Employee Rights in the Workplace

Employers are required to abide by certain employee rights which are set out in human rights, employment standards and workers compensation. By ensuring compliance, employers will minimize the risks of legal issues. 

In particular, it is important for employers to understand human rights protections and build internal policies and procedures that help to avoid issues before they start. Some common employee rights include the following:

Right to Work in BC

Every Canadian has the right to work. Furthermore, in British Columbia, we have even more protections in terms of carrying out that right to work. Those protections include the Human Rights Code and the Employment Standards Act (ESA). 

These laws have been created to create standards for conduct to ensure that employers not engage in or allow discriminatory behaviour against employees based on certain protected characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, gender, disability or age. These human rights protections are intended to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly and without bias in the workplace, irrespective of a protected characteristic.

It’s important for employers to be aware of these rights and implement them properly in their policy. Not just with employees, but hiring policy as well.

Religious Rights in the Workplace

Religious rights are an essential aspect of human rights in the workplace. Employers must accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices to the point of undue hardship. This means that employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate their employees’ religious needs, such as providing time off for religious holidays or allowing religious dress or grooming practices. If employers aren’t careful about dealing with these rights may be subject to legal action.

Workplace Harassment

Harassment is a serious violation of employee rights in the workplace. It can take many forms and, including verbal, physical, or sexual harassment. Not to mention workplace bullying, which has increased by nearly 20% over the last decade. On occasion, the offender isn’t aware of any human rights violation. 

Employers must take the steps to prevent and address harassment in the workplace. This includes providing training, establishing clear policies and procedures, and taking disciplinary action against offenders. Employees who experience harassment have the right to file a complaint and seek legal recourse.

Employer Rights in British Columbia

In today’s climate, employers are more cautious as they understand that any mistake could result in legal action against their company. Nevertheless, businesses have the right to operate as they deem fit, which includes hiring decisions, employee terminations, demotions, and more. It’s important to note that employers can only exercise these rights within the boundaries of established laws and regulations.

Duty to Accommodate / Undue Hardship

Employers have a duty to accommodate individuals in the workplace. This means that employers must make reasonable adjustments and changes to work or provide time off in reaching accommodation. However, the duty to accommodate ends when the employer reaches undue hardship.

Furthermore, the employer is entitled to make employment decisions based on bona fide requirements of the position. Therefore, if there is an absolutely essential occupational requirement for a job, then the employer may be entitled to engage in decision-making that might otherwise be considered in violation of the H

Employer Rights to Terminate Employee

Many disputes can arise from terminations, but employer rights allow you to terminate employees for various reasons. This can include poor performance, misconduct, or downsizing. However, employers must ensure that they are terminating employees for legitimate reasons and not engaging in discriminatory practices. Additionally, employers must follow the proper termination procedures, including providing notice and severance pay where required by law.

There is also the case of constructive dismissal. An employee may feel like they have no choice but to resign because of significant changes in the original employment contract. Even when making structural changes to your company, you must consider others in this process.

Conducting Criminal Background Checks and Credit Checks

Employers may conduct criminal background checks or credit checks on potential hires, but they must do so in compliance with human rights legislation. This includes ensuring that the checks are only conducted if they are relevant to the position and that they do not discriminate against any applicants on prohibited grounds.

Employers must be careful not to make assumptions about individuals based on their criminal record or credit history. Instead, they should consider the relevance of the information to the position and make decisions based on that might otherwise be in violation of the Human Rights Code.

How can Human Rights Violations Be Mitigated?

Employers can and should start by developing clear policies and procedures that are designed to prevent discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace. These policies and procedures include providing training for employees on the importance of human rights requirements, respecting diversity and inclusion, and the consequences of human rights violations. Regularly reviewing these policies and procedures is also important to ensure that they remain up-to-date and effective.

Additionally, employers should create open lines of communication with their employees to encourage them to raise concerns or complaints. Employers must take these complaints seriously, investigate them promptly, and take appropriate action if violations occur. Failing to do so can lead to legal consequences as well as decreased morale and eroded organizational culture.


The workplace might experience tension between employers and employees, but we don’t think it has to be that way! Employees have to understand employer rights just as much as employers need to respect theirs. Organizations in BC must have the right employment law firm by their side. It’s not just about defending against lawsuits. It’s about creating the right environment at work that’s human rights friendly. The end result is happy and productive employees, better company performance and a better relationship between both parties. With proper counsel and assistance, employers can avoid legal issues, gain a competitive edge in attracting and maintaining a vibrant, productive workforce, and have an unparalleled culture. 

The right team, dedicated to your success