Discrimination & Harassment


What is Discrimination?

Discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional, is unfair, differential treatment of individuals and groups based on prejudice, ignorance, fear or stereotypes. Discrimination imposes burdens on, or denies opportunities to, individuals or groups and is unfair because it is not based on actual academic or job performance, or any other form of competence.

Discrimination is based on the erroneous assumption that a particular individual shares attributes, usually negative, stereotypically associated with a group to which he or she is perceived to belong.

Examples of Discrimination

  • Rejecting applications from persons with physical disabilities on the assumption that they cannot adequately do the job
  • Asking only female applicants about their day-care arrangements
  • Isolating co-workers because of their sexual orientation
  • Denying women promotions to management because the employer believes women are not committed to their careers
  • Refusing to hire persons of certain cultural backgrounds because the employer is uncomfortable with their perceived differences from the “majority” of employees
  • Rejecting applications of graduate students from certain cultures because some group-differences research suggests that they are less intelligent than candidates from other cultures
  • Evaluating students negatively because the instructor disapproves of their political beliefs or cultural perspectives
  • Denigrating ethno-cultural contributions to academic fields of study and subject material

The B.C. Human Rights Code identifies thirteen grounds of prohibited discrimination.Discriminating on any of these 13 grounds violates the Human Rights Code and UBC’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment.

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The Grounds of Prohibited Discrimination

On July 28, 2016, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2016 came into effect. The amendment:

– adds the grounds “gender identity or expression” to all areas of the Code (except wage discrimination based on sex)
– adds the grounds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the non-profit exemption – adds the grounds “sexual orientation” and “gender identify or expression” to the employment equity provision

Discriminating on any of the following grounds, which the B.C. Human Rights Code declares prohibited grounds of discrimination, violates both the Human Rights Code and UBC’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment.

  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Colour
  • Family Status
  • Gender Identity or Expression
  • Marital Status
  • Physical and Mental Disability
  • Place of Origin
  • Political Belief
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex (including gender and pregnancy)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Unrelated criminal conviction

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What is Harassment?

Harassment, a form of discrimination, is a comment, conduct or behaviour that humiliates, intimidates, excludes and isolates an individual or group based on the BC Human Rights Code’s thirteen grounds of prohibited discrimination.

Harassment is unwanted and unwelcome attention from a person who knows, or ought to know, that the behaviour is unwelcome. Harassment can range from written or spoken comments to unwanted jokes, gifts, and physical assault, and may be accompanied by threats or promises regarding work or study opportunities and conditions. Harassment can be either a single incident or a series of related incidents.

Examples of Harassment

  • Repeated derogatory comments or jokes based on one of the prohibited grounds
  • Unwelcome staring, stalking or touching
  • Unwanted sexual innuendoes and come-ons
  • Racist, sexist or homophobic graffiti, cartoons, posters or screen-savers displayed in a common work or study area
  • Persistent unwanted contact after the end of a consensual relationship
  • Mocking a person’s accent to ridicule that person
  • Discussing the culture of other classmates, co-workers, or colleagues in a disrespectful or ridiculing manner.
  • Refusing to reschedule lunch-time tutorials that conflict with a student’s religious practices/prayers
  • Threatening to fire people for taking maternity or parental leave
  • Imitating a co-worker’s speech impediment to put down that person
  • Disparaging comments about mature students’ place in higher education

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