Affirmative 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 discrimination.

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 Commission.

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