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Defining workplace discrimination issues in Alberta

There are many variables at play regarding workplace discrimination, according to the Alberta Human Rights Act. Any Alberta worker or individual who is subjected to negative treatment as defined by the AHR Act at a work environment may file a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Negative treatment in the workplace includes rude and debasing remarks and insulting actions aimed at a worker, resulting in a hostile and bitter workplace environment for that worker.

In order for an employee to be qualified for protection from the Commission, the negative treatment must ostracize the worker on the basis of gender, job status, religion, ancestry, skin colour, origin, age, mental or physical disabilities and race. Employees are not able to make a formal complaint to the commission simply based on a coworker's repeated rude remarks insulting another employee's intelligence. Calling a person stupid or an idiot, for instance, is not classified under the protected ground defined by the AHR Act even though the remarks are discourteous and ill mannered. However, a verbal attack based on a person's system of beliefs or colour is considered grounds for a complaint.

Albertans have a right to work at their jobs without fear of harassment and discrimination as defined by the AHR Act. According to the Act, employees are restricted from making offensive remarks and actions aimed at attacking a coworker's race, gender, beliefs or physical disabilities, for example.

Employees who are the target of a hostile work environment because may wish to contact an employment lawyer if the matter is not rectified. By reviewing the circumstances, a lawyer who handles illegal workplace discrimination cases may be able to offer various options in an effort to settle the matter and resolve the issues.

Source: Alberta Human Rights Commission, "Poisoned work environment", October 02, 2014

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Ridout Barron
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Calgary, AB T2T 3T1

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