How to recognize discrimination and what to do if you think you are a victim?
In the charter of human rights and freedoms, discrimination is defined as a distinction, exclusion or preference that destroys or compromises the right to equality. These grounds are: race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, age except to the extent provided by law, religion, political beliefs, language, ethnic origin, social condition, disability or the use of a means to compensate for this disability.
How does discrimination manifest itself?
Discrimination is generally fuelled by stereotypes and prejudices, conscious or unaware, that disqualify or stigmatize individuals because of their colour, appearance or group affiliation, for example.
Discrimination can be manifested as much by exclusion as by harassment or unfavourable treatment of a person or group of persons, whether through repeated, vexatious or derogatory words, acts or gestures.
Forms of discrimination
Sometimes discrimination is blatant and voluntary, whereas in some situations it is more subtle or even systemic.
a) Direct discrimination
Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently, intentionally in violation of the grounds prohibited by law.
Here are some examples:
- Refusing to sell an item to an individual because of their ethnic origin;
- When selling an item, including discriminatory restrictions;
- An owner who refuses to rent an apartment to a welfare recipient.
b) Indirect discrimination
Indirect discrimination often occurs without intent to discriminate and instead arises from the uniform application of a standard, policy, rule or practice that is at first sight neutral, but which has a discriminatory effect on an individual or class of individuals..
Here are some examples:
- The civic calendar, which provides for statuary holidays modelled on the Catholic holidays, can have a detrimental effect on people belonging to minority religious groups.
- Banning pets in many public places and workplaces can have discriminatory effects on the accessibility of certain groupe of people.
- A company's work schedule may be found to be discriminatory if the particular care of certain employees is not taken into account, for example, because of their disability. .
c) Systemic discrimination
Systemic discrimination has lasting effects on an identifiable group of individuals because of their gender, age, skin colour, disability, etc. For example, with an equal offer, advocate a person with a Quebec surname to a person with a foreign surname for the sale of an object, without a clear reason as to why you are advocating the individual with a Quebec surname.
Prohibited grounds for discrimination
- Age: You cannot be treated differently because of your age.
- Social: condition: You cannot be treated differently because of your place in society, your income, your occupation or your level of education.
- Political: Convictions: One cannot treat you differently because of your political beliefs, that is, the political ideas that you firmly believe in and identify with.
- Civil status: You cannot be treated differently because of your family situation. Marital status includes celibacy, marriage, civil union, adoption, divorce, membership in a single-parent family and a kinship or covenant with another person.
- Pregnancy: You cannot be treated differently because you are pregnant or because of everything related to pregnancy such as maternity leave, return to work and pregnancy-related complications.
- Disability: You cannot be treated differently because of a real or presumed disability that limits you physically, mentally or psychologically.
- Religion: One cannot treat you differently because of your religion or beliefs or because you do not have a religion.
- Language: One cannot treat you differently because of the language you speak or your accent.
- Sexual orientation: One cannot be treated differently because he is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or otherwise.
- Race or colour: You cannot be treated differently because of your race or colour. You cannot be the target of offensive and repeated comments or behaviour because of your race or colour. Racial profiling is also a form of discrimination based on race or colour.
- Ethnic or national origin: One cannot be treated differently because of his ethnic or national origin.
- Sex: One cannot treat you differently because you are a woman, a man or an intersex person.
- Gender identity or expression: One cannot treat you differently because of your identity or gender expression. You may also not be harassed or insulted because of your gender expression, for example because of your clothing choices, your hairstyle or your make-up.
Areas where discrimination is prohibited
- Work: an employer cannot treat an employee differently on the basis of personal characteristics (e.g. race, colour, gender, ethnicity, disability, etc.). The law also prohibits an employer from refusing employment, dismissing or penalizing someone because of his criminal record if the offense committed has no connection with employment or if a pardon has been obtained.
Exception: In certain circumstances, an employer has the right to recruit a person who has a necessary characteristic for a position. This is the case for non-profit organizations of a charitable, philanthropic, religious, political or educational nature, and dedicated exclusively to the well-being of an ethnic or religious group.
- Housing: the Charter of Human Rights and Freedom guarantees that everyone has the right to equal access to housing. An owner or landlord cannot treat a tenant differently based on their personal characteristics (e.g. race, colour, gender, ethnicity, disability, etc.).
- Services, transportation and public places: discrimination and harassment are prohibited in the area of services, public transport and public places including restaurants, schools, shops, campgrounds, etc. For example: a shopkeeper cannot deny access to his store to a person accompanied by his service dog.
- Legal acts: discrimination and harassment are prohibited in the area of legal acts including contracts, collective agreements, wills, insurance or annuity contracts; benefits plans and pensions, annuities or insurance schemes; universal annuity or insurance plans.
Exception: for insurances and social plans, a distinction, exclusion or preference is not considered discriminatory when age, sex or marital status is used to determine the risk factor based on actuarial data or where health status is used as a risk determination factor by the insurer.
How do I know if I am being discriminated against?
Discrimination creates inequalities between individuals.
Discrimination is when a person is treated differently because of his or her personal characteristics; features that are immutable or difficult to change such as race, colour, sex, etc.
As every person has the right to the recognition and exercise, in full equality, of the rights and freedoms of the person, without distinction, exclusion or preference, there is discrimination when that right is compromised.
What to do in case of discrimination?
If you believe you have experienced discrimination, harassment or exploitation, you can try to assert your rights using different strategies.
- You can try to resolve the situation by asserting your rights yourself;
- You can join your voice to others in the same situation as you;
- You can go to your union or addresse yourself to a rights defence body.
- You can file a complaint with the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission;
- You can go to court.
If you believe you have been discriminated against during a buying, selling or renting situation on the LesPAC platform, please contact our customer service by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team is there to support you and can direct you to the proper resources.