Look to Ontario for Guidance on Gender Identity and Gender Expression Discrimination

Gender identity and gender expression are not expressly protected grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act. It has been recently reported in the news that the Alberta Government is considering amending the Act to add both of these grounds.

Alberta employers should keep in mind two things petaining to gender identity and gender expression. First, both of these are implicitly protected under the Act under the enumerated ground of “gender”. Second, many other provinces such as Ontario already explicitly protect gender expression and gender identity in their human rights legislation. As a result, there is already readily available information on the topic for Alberta employers.

In particular, last year the Ontario Human Rights Commission published a comprehensive policy entitled Policy on preventing discrimination because of Gender Identity and Gender Expression. According to the Ontario Commission, one of the purposes of the policy is “to help employers recognize and meet their legal obligations under the Code not to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and gender expression”.

We encourage Alberta employers to review the Ontario policy as it contains useful information on understanding bias and prejudice, forms of discrimination, the duty to accommodate, and preventing and responding to discrimination. It also contains a best practice checklist, which is a very helpful tool in identifying and managing issues related to trans persons.




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