University of Alberta Employment Equity and Human Rights Definitions

Discrimination: Discrimination is any act or omission based on race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, age, ancestry, place of origin, family status, source of income, sexual orientation or political belief, when that act or omission results in loss of or limit on opportunities to work or to fully participate in campus life or offends the dignity of the person. Discrimination is often divided into two categories: direct discrimination and indirect or adverse impact discrimination. Direct discrimination tends to be quite blatant. Indirect or adverse impact discrimination arises when an apparently neutral rule or standard which is not discriminatory on its face, nevertheless adversely affects certain members of the group to whom it applies. There may be no intention to discriminate, but the impact is discriminatory. For this reason, the law provides that it is not necessary to prove intent for a case of discrimination to be upheld, but rather that discrimination has taken place.


Duty to Accommodate: The University of Alberta has a duty to take reasonable steps to accommodate individuals who are disadvantaged by employment, tenancy or educational rules because they possess personal characteristics protected under human rights law. There is a legal obligation to address or correct situations of adverse impact discrimination by providing reasonable accommodation. The duty to accommodate is a shared responsibility between the individual requiring the accommodation and the University. The University of Alberta Reasonable Accommodation Fund for Equipment and Supplies offset costs associated with purchasing equipment and supplies for new and current employees with disabilities.


Employment Equity: Canada's Employment Equity Act is concerned about removing barriers that have a discriminatory impact or the potential to have a discriminatory impact, especially on four groups of individuals federally designated as being underrepresented in employment in Canada: Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities, and women. The University of Alberta is signatory to the Federal Contractors' Program, a federal government employment equity program. Opening Doors: A Plan for Employment Equity at the University of Alberta was approved by GFC and the BOG in 1994.


Harassment: Harassment is conduct or comments which are intimidating, threatening, demeaning, or abusive and may be accompanied by direct or implied threats to grade(s), status, or job. It can occur between people of differing authority or between people of similar authority. Harassment may be directed at an individual or at a group. Harassment has the impact of creating a work or study environment that is hostile and limits individuals in their pursuit of education, research, or work goals.
Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. One example of this behaviour is when an individual attempts to use power to get another person to agree to sexual favours. Excerpt from: University of Alberta Discrimination & Harassment Policy.


Bullying: Bullying is a pattern of negative behaviour directed at a single person or a group of individuals. Bullying behaviour may be difficult to define and like other forms of harassment, it is the impact and not the intent that is relevant. Bullies may operate within established organizational rules and policies limiting their actions to just below the threshold of discrimination and harassment or they may escalate to the point of contravening the University of Alberta Discrimination & Harassment Policy.


Protected Grounds:
Race - Belonging to a group of people related by common heritage
Religious Belief - System or belief, worship and conduct (includes Aboriginal spirituality)
Colour - Colour of a person's skin.
Gender - Being male, female, or transgender. Also protected under gender are pregnancy and sexual harassment.
Physical Disability - 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.
Mental Disability - Any mental disorder, developmental disorder or learning disorder regardless of the cause or duration of the disorder.
Marital Status - The state of being married, single, widowed, divorced, separated, or living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage.
Ancestry - Belonging to a group of people related by a common heritage.
Age - Defined in the Alberta Human Rights Act as "18 years or older". Persons who are under 18 years of age can make complaints on all grounds except the ground of age.
Place of Origin - Place of birth.
Family Status - Being related to another person by blood, marriage or adoption.
Source of Income - Defined in the Alberta Human Rights Act 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.
Sexual Orientation - This ground includes protection from differential treatment based on a person's actual or presumed sexual orientation, whether homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.
Political Belief - Additional protected ground defined by the University of Alberta Discrimination & Harassment Policy.
Gender identity - Refers to a person's internal, individual experience of gender, which may not coincide with the sex assigned to them at birth. A person may have a sense of being a woman, a man, both, or neither. Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation, which is also protected under the Alberta Human Rights Act.
Gender expression - Refers to the varied ways in which a person expresses their gender, which can include a combination of dress, demeanour, social behaviour and other factors.