Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

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Protection against discrimination in employment extends to all aspects of the employment relationship, from the recruitment and selection process, through all the various aspects of the working relationship, to the termination of the employment. Pregnant women have significant legislated rights other than those under the Human Rights Code, hereinafter referred to as “the Code”, most importantly under the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the federal Employment Insurance Act (EIA). These rights may overlap with the Code protections, or may provide additional protections. Common negative stereotypes and attitudes are often causes for discrimination in employment on the basis of pregnancy, such as the fact that a pregnant woman will not be able to work efficiently and effectively during her pregnancy and that accommodation of her needs will be onerous. This idea is enduring and persistent, even though it is not tolerated by the facts and can be influential to employers to not hire pregnant women. Pregnancy in the workplace is a fundamental human rights issue of equality of opportunity between women and men. Women should not suffer negative consequences in the workplace simply because they are pregnant. Workplace rules and job functions may affect a pregnant employee differently than other employees. For example, in this case, the employer refused to hire the job applicant who was pregnant for 7 months, because of the period of her pregnancy and that she would not be able to carrying heavy supplies from delivery vans into the kitchen, although she was willing to carry moderately heavy ones. This example shows the job applicant receiving differential treatment and negative consequences. British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. British Columbia Government Service Employees' Union (1999) SCC 48, known as Meiorin for short, created a unified test to determine if a violation of human rights legislation can be justified as a Bona Fide...
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