Definitions of Protected Grounds

Age
Ancestry/Place of Origin
Colour
Family Status
Gender
Gender Identity and Expression
Marital Status
Mental/Physical Disability
Political Belief
Race

Religious Beliefs
Sexual Orientation
Source of Income

Age

Age is defined in the Act as "18 years or older."  Persons who are 18 years or older can make complaints on the ground of age in all of these areas:

  • statements, publications, notices, signs, symbols, emblems or other representations that are published, issued or displayed before the public
  • employment practices
  • employment applications or advertisements
  • membership in trade unions, employers' organisations or occupational associations

It is important to know that age is not a protected ground in the following areas:

  • tenancy - For example, a landlord advertises that an apartment building is for adults only and specifies that all tenants must be over 21 years old.  Because age is not protected in the area of tenancy, a 19-year-old could not make a complaint of discrimination based on age in this case. 
  • goods, services, accommodation or facilities that are customarily available to the public. - For example, a movie theatre that offers lower ticket prices to seniors (people over 65 years of age) only.  Because age is not protected in the area of services, a 55-year-old could not make a complaint of discrimination based on age in this case. 1

Persons under the age of 18 can make complaints on all grounds except the ground of age. For example, a 16-year-old can make a complaint of discrimination in the areas of employment, tenancy, employment practices, etc. based on the grounds of physical disability, race, gender, etc. but not on the ground of age.

What age discrimination might look like?

  • Not hiring a qualified older candidate on the basis that he/she might not be a "good fit" for your "energetic" and "dynamic" team. 2

  • Giving a training opportunity to a younger employee on the basis that she will "get more out of the experience" and "give more back to the unit" than an older employee who is "on the verge of retirement" or who is "to fixed in her ways" to learn new skills.2

  • Deciding to rent a housing unit to a group of graduate students rather than to a group of second year students, on the basis that older students are "more mature" and less likely to "wreck the unit". 2

What does age harassment look like?

  • Using derogatory terms to refer to older employees/students or to younger employees/students2

  • Seemingly positive remarks about how “chipper”, “energetic”, or “feisty” older employees/students are or how “mature”, “responsible” and “grown-up” younger employee/students are.2

  • “Complimenting” an older employee for “still” riding his bicycle to work.2 

 

Resources:

Employee and Family Assistance Program

Employment Equity

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

 

 

Ancestry/Place of Origin:   

Ancestry/Place of Origin is defined by belonging to a group of people related by a common heritage.1  

 

What does ancestry/place of origin discrimination look like?

  • Making assumptions about someone’s ability based on someone’s ancestry or place of birth. 

     

  • Associating certain attributes to someone’s character based on an individual’s ancestry or place of birth.

     

  • Not admitting someone into graduate school based someone’s ancestry or place of birth.

     

    What does ancestry/place of origin harassment look like?

  • Making inappropriate comments, posts or communications regarding someone’s ancestry or place of birth.

     

  • Jokes and name calling based on an individual’s ancestry or place of birth.

     

    What does an accommodation look like?

  • Making assumptions about someone’s ability based on colour of skin.

     

  • Associating certain attributes to someone’s character based on their skin colour.

     

  • Not admitting someone into graduate school based on their skin colour.

     

    What does harassment based on colour look like?

  • Making assumptions about someone’s individual character or developing personal animosity towards an individual on account of the behavior, actions or reputation of his or her spouse, child or parent, is also a prohibited form of discrimination on marital or family status grounds. 2
  • Not admitting someone into a degree program based on the number of children they have.

     

    What does family status harassment look like?

  • Attempting to shame or embarrass someone based on the composition of their family.

     

  • Refusal to acknowledge one’s family because it is not a nuclear family composition.    

     

    What does an accommodation look like?

  • Allowing flexible work or study schedules when someone has a critically ill child or family member is hospice care. 

     

    On campus resources:

    Employee and Family Assistance Program

    Human Resource Services

    Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

     

     

    Gender:

    Gender is defined as being male, female or transgender. [1] Also protected under gender are pregnancy and sexual harassment.1

     

    What does gender discrimination look like?

  • Refusing to allow someone to join an intramural team because their gender.

     

  • Not wanting to hire the most qualified candidate because she is of child bearing age and might take maternity leave.  

 

What does gender harassment look like?

 


[1] The words "transgender" and "transgendered" are used to refer to people who identify as either transgender or transsexual. The Ontario Human Rights Commission offers a helpful definition of gender identity on its website: "Gender identity is linked to a person's sense of self, and particularly the sense of being male or female. A person's gender identity is different from their sexual orientation, which is also protected under the [Ontario Human Rights] Code. People's gender identity may be different from their birth-assigned sex, and may include:
Transgender: People whose life experience includes existing in more than one gender. This may include people who identify as transsexual, and people who describe themselves as being on a gender spectrum or as living outside the gender categories of 'man' or 'woman.'
Transsexual: People who were identified at birth as one sex, but who identify themselves differently. They may seek or undergo one or more medical treatments to align their bodies with their internally felt identity, such as hormone therapy, sex-reassignment surgery or other procedures." – Alberta Human Rights Commission, Protected areas and Grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

 

Gender Identity and Expression:

Gender expression is the way one uses cosmetics, clothing, appearance and mannerisms to communicate their gender.  Gender expression may or may not match the sex they were assigned with at birth.   Gender expression is one’s internal experience of gender.  One’s gender expression may or may not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

 

Gender Identity is an individual’s inner sense of gender. That inner sense of gender may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to the individual at birth.2

 

What does gender identity and expression discrimination look like?

  • Not hiring someone who does not visually conform to traditional gender expression.

     

  • Building designs that only consider the gender binary. (i.e. male & female change rooms)

  

 What does gender identity and expression harassment look like?

  • Using language that is derogatory and demeaning towards people who do not confirm to society’s gender expression.

     

  • Refusal to use the preferred pronouns as identified by a student or staff member. 

 

What does an accommodation look like?

  • Making the necessary procedural changes to allow someone to change their identity in their study/employment records. 

     

  • Allow for the use of multiple pronouns. 

     

  • Facilitate access to single use washrooms and services rather than merely offering gender binary facilities and services. 

 

On Campus Resources:

Employee and Family Assistance Program

Employment Equity

Human Resource Services (gender transition section TBD)

Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services

The Landing

LBGTQ Services – Augustana

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

Sexual and Gender Diversity

 

Marital Status:

Marital status is defined by the state of being married, single, widowed, divorced, separated or living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage.1

 

What does marital status discrimination look like?

  • Treating a student as though she is less capable of contributing to classroom discussions because she is a married woman.2

     

  • Hiring someone because he “needs” the job because he is married and has children, while another applicant is single and has no children. 2

What does marital status harassment look like?

  • Making derogatory remarks or jokes one’s marital status. (single, married, divorced, widowed, common-law etc.)

     

  • Attributing specific characteristics to someone due to their marital status.

 

On campus resources:

Employee and Family Assistance Program

Human Resource Services

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

 

Mental/Physical Disability:

Mental disability is described as any mental disorder, developmental disorder or learning disorder regardless of the cause or duration of the disorder.1

Physical disability is defined by any degree of physical disability, deformity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by injury, birth defect or illness. This includes, but is not limited to, epilepsy; paralysis; amputation; lack of physical coordination; visual, hearing and speech impediments; and physical reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device. 1

What does discrimination based on disability look like?

  • Not providing translation services for someone using American sign Language(ALS) in a job interview.
  • Not extending exam accommodations where a expressed need is warranted and documented. 

What does harassment based on disability look like?

  • Using toxic or ablest language.
  • Telling jokes or stories using characteristics that poke fun at those with a physical or mental disability.   

What does an accommodation look like?

  • The use of and availability of adaptive technologies, ramps and railings. 
  • Removing known allergens from a work/study place.
  • The use of service animals.

On Campus Resources:

Assistance Program for Postdoctoral Fellows

Community Social Work Team

Counseling and Clinical Services – students & graduate students

Counseling Services – Augustana (students)

Employee and Family Assistance Program – all staff & faculty

Graduate Student Assistance Program

Human Resource Services (i.e. injury, illness and long term disability)

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

Peer Support Centre

Reasonable Accommodation Fund (RAF)

Student Accessibility Services

Student Accessibility Services - Augustana

 

Political Belief:

Political belief is defined as a set opinions or beliefs about how society should work.

Note: Political belief as a protected ground is unique to the University of Alberta based on the premise of academic freedom and expression but is not covered by the Alberta Human Rights Act as one of their 13 protected grounds.  

 

What does discrimination look like?

  • Not hiring someone because they are affiliated with a specific political party.   

     

  • Penalizing or disciplining a faculty/staff member for their political actions.

     

    What does harassment look like?

  • Maligning someone over their political platform or campaign materials. 

     

  • Derogatory on-line posts bout someone’s political belief. 

     

    What does an accommodation look like?

     

  • Allowing individuals to wear their desired campaign materials in the workplace. 

 

On Campus Resources:

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

U of A Student Organizations (please note: link will take you to a site where you can filter on Political and will find numerous resources)

 

 

Race:

Race is defined as belonging to a group of people who share a common heritage. 1

 

What does racial discrimination look like?

Racial discrimination may be understood as a distinction, intentional or not, that has the effect of imposing burdens, disadvantaging, and limiting access to opportunities on the basis of the race and/or what are often referred to as "race-related grounds" (i.e. characteristics often linked to race such as: ancestry, colour, ethnicity, place of origin, creed and citizenship. Some examples of racial discrimination include:2

  • Preference being given to persons of one race over persons of another race in housing.

     

  • Denying a promotion to a staff or faculty member on the basis of race-related stereotypes.

     

  • Negatively evaluating a student's course work based on the student's non-European surname. 2

 

What does harassment look like?

Racial harassment may be defined as a course of vexatious comment or conduct related to race or a race-related ground, which is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.  Some examples of racial harassment include: 2

  • Racial epithets, slurs, jokes, and name-calling.

     

  • Ridiculing individuals because of their race-related characteristics, e.g. wearing of religious garments.

     

  • Display of racial graffiti, posters, cartoons, screen savers, etc. 2

 

 

On Campus Resources:

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

International Student Services

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

U of A Student Organizations (please note: link will take you to a site where upwards of 44 different ethnic/cultural organizations on campus can be found)

University of Alberta International Student Support

 

 

Religious Beliefs:

Religious beliefs are defined as a system of beliefs, worship or conduct (includes native spirituality)1

 

What does discrimination look like?

 

  • Refusing to hire or allow admittance into a program based on your religious beliefs.

     

  • Receiving less pay that a coworker or a lower grade than a fellow student because of your religious beliefs.

 

 

What does harassment look like?

 

  • Posting offensive materials/posters/propaganda denouncing someone’s religious beliefs.

     

  • Telling jokes using characteristics associated with religious belief.

 

What does an accommodation look like?

  • Creating space for prayers and ritual cleansing.

     

  • Allowing flexibility in scheduling to participate in religious ceremonies. 

 

On Campus Resources

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

Chaplaincy – Augustana

Interfaith Chaplains Association

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

U of A Student Organizations (please note: link will take you to a site where you can filter on Religious and will find numerous resources)

 

 

Sexual Orientation:

Sexual orientation is defined as protection from differential treatment based on a person's actual or presumed sexual orientation, whether homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.1 

What does discrimination look like?

  • Not hiring someone is who or who is perceived to be homosexual.

     

  • Not being permitted to attend an event with your same sex partner.

What does harassment look like?

  • Jokes and images that make fun of someone’s sexual orientation. Using terms or references like, “that’s so gay”.

     

    On Campus Resources:

    Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

    Employment Equity

    Human Resource Services (Gender Transition)

    LGBTQ Services – Augustana

    The Landing

    Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

    Sexual and Gender Diversity

     

    Source of Income:

    Source of income is defined as lawful source of income.  The protected ground of source of income includes any income that attracts a social stigma to its recipients, for example, social assistance, disability pension, and income supplements for seniors.  Income that does not result in social stigma would not be included in this ground. 1

     

    What does discrimination look like?

  • Denying service at a campus restaurant because it is known that someone is getting public assistance. 

     

  • Denying someone access to education because they are first nations funded.

     

    What does harassment look like?

  • Making derogatory references to people who are receiving public assistance.

 

On Campus Resources:

Financial Aid Office – (students)

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) – financial consultation

Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights

1:Alberta Human Rights Commission, Protected areas and grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act
2:Human Rights Office, Queens University www.queensu.ca/humanrights