by Michael Chen
Originally published: June 17, 2016
Employers should start preparing as the federal government considers a new transgender rights bill, a lawyer suggests.
The legislation, Bill C-16, would update the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression in the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination. It would also amend the Criminal Code to extend hate crime laws to crimes based on gender identity or expression.
Anneli LeGault, a partner at Dentons Canada LLP who has worked on transgender accessibility cases in the past, says employers should be aware of whether of their province already has explicit protections for transgender people.
Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Ontario include both gender identity and gender expression in their human rights laws, while legislation in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan includes just gender identity.
LeGault predicts the federal bill will have the greatest impact on federally regulated employers, such as banks, airlines, railways, and telecommunications companies.
For employers that want to prepare, LeGault suggests they amend their harassment and complaint policies to cover transgender-specific issues, educate themselves and their employees and look at how they can change their organization to be more inclusive.