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Affirmitive action


In the Human Rights Act, Chapter 214 of the revised statutes, 1989, it states

that "in recognition that human rights must be protected by the rule of law, this

Legislature affirms the principal that every person is free and equal in dignity and

rights without regard to race, religion, religious creed, colour, sex, physical or

mental disability or ethnic or national origin." Unfortunately though, sometimes this

law is not always abided by. Women, aboriginal people who are physically or

mentally challenged, and visible minorities have often been denied employment

equity, or equal employment opportunities due to discriminatory practices. These

groups should enjoy equal representative share of employment opportunities in all

occupations and at all levels.

An example of discrimination that denies equal opportunity is the practice of

allowing members of these four groups to advance within a company only to a

certain level. The company may appear to be equitable by including members of

these groups in management positions. However, the top executive positions are

still out of reach for members of these groups not because these people are not

qualified for the jobs, but because they are discriminated against. Legislation,

including the federal Employment Equity Act, exists to ensure employment equity.

Such legislation requires employers to report what proportion of their employees

belong to these four groups. Employers must then prove that all groups are equally

represented at all levels within their organizations.

Affirmative action promotes equality in the workplace in such areas as hiring,

training-apprenticeships, promotion, compensation, transfer, layoff, termination and

goals. It also promotes equal employment opportunities for those groups or

individuals who are disadvantaged due to race, religion, creed, colour, disability,

national or ethnic origin, sex, age or marital status. Affirmative action programs are

designed to improve the lot of people who have suffered as a result of past


By the year 2000, white males will likely account for only 15% of new

workers - 85% of new workers will consist of women, aboriginal people, physically

or mentally challenged people, and members of visible minorities. The number of

women and minorities has increased in many occupations because of affirmative

action programs. Some companies actually make a point of advertising that they are

Equal Opportunity Employers.

Application forms and advertisements for employment should not make any

inquiry that directly or indirectly expresses or invites any limitation, specification,

preference or information as to age, race, colour, religion, creed, sex, sexual

orientation, physical or mental disability, ethnic, national or aboriginal origin, family

or marital status, source of income, political beliefs, affiliation or activity. There is

provision for exemption if a bona fide qualification can be established. The burden

of proof lies with the employer, who should apply in writing to the Human Rights


Some unacceptable pre-employment inquiries are:

-indicate whether Mr., Mrs., Miss. or Ms.

-any inquiry into gender

-any inquiry into sexual orientation

-any inquiry into pregnancy, childbirth or child bearing plans

-any inquiry as to the applicant's spouse

-request for photograph or the taking of photographs

-any inquiry into religious affiliation or customs

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