Human rights in the workplace refers to the equal treatment of persons in all respects of employment. The areas of employment include, but are not exclusive to, applying for a job, recruitment, job training, job transfers, promotions, dismissals, layoffs and employment terminations. Unfortunately, the violation of human rights in the workplace is prevalent and there are many laws present regarding the abuse of these basic rights. An example is the Ontario Human Rights Code in Canada and it outlines mutual respect and equal opportunity for everyone. In addition, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a constitutional document, also guarantees equal rights based on the grounds of race, ethnicity and gender.
Human rights are in place to prevent discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination is difficult to define because employers may hide the real reason they did not hire or dismissed an employee to avoid having conflict with the law, however, discrimination is loosely defined as:
- In the process of hiring/dismissal, the employer does not consider the individual merits or skills of the candidate and, instead, makes prejudicial assumptions based on presumed traits. In the face of these assumptions, the employer denies benefit or applies burden to the candidate.
Legally, all employers must make sure that their workplace is discrimination- and harassment-free. There are no exceptions to this rule, as every employer is excepted to adhere to the human rights codes outlined in their respective countries. In addition to the employers, employees are responsible for treating other employees with the same respect that is consistent with the code. Another important partner in creating non-discriminatory workplaces are unions. Employers, unions and employees all work together in cohesion to ensure that the workplace is a safe, respectful and non-discriminatory environment for everyone to work in, while offering acceptance and equal opportunity for all.
This code applies to anyone who relates to the business activities provided by an employer. This includes all full-time and part-time staff, contract employees, probation employees, personnel under contract, volunteer workers, medical attendants, union members and even non-employees. The codes outlined for human rights apply to a very broad group of people who are involved with the workplace environment.