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Human Rights Act

The original Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Code was introduced in 1971. It was inspired by the principles outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. See the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights for more information.

The original Human Rights Code established the Human Rights Commission and allowed for the regulation and promotion of all matters concerning human rights that fall within the competence of the province’s legislature. In 2010, Newfoundland and Labrador’s human rights legislation was updated to reflect changing times, to provide new protections, and to increase the efficiency of the Commission’s complaints process. The new Human Rights Act replaced the old Code in its entirety. In 2013 the Human Rights Act was amended to expressly include gender identity and gender expression in the list of prohibited grounds. Access the Human Rights Act for more information.

What does the Human Rights Act cover?

With certain exceptions, the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination and harassment in certain protected areas:

  • Employment
  • Membership in a trade union
  • Provision of goods and services
  • Commercial and Residential Rentals
  • Publications
  • Contracts

The Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of the following prohibited grounds:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Nationality
  • Ethnic origin
  • Social origin
  • Religious creed
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability (including perceived disability)
  • Disfigurement
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Source of income
  • Political opinion
  • Criminal conviction (unrelated to employment)

The Human Rights Act also does the following:

  • Prohibits discrimination because of a person’s association or relationship with a person or persons who are identified by one of the prohibited grounds listed above.
  • Prohibits retaliation against persons who have made a complaint or have given evidence or helped in some way in a complaint.
  • Prohibits sexual solicitation or advances by a person who is in a position to give or deny a benefit.
  • Ensures equal pay for same or similar work.
  • Approves special programs designed to reduce or eliminate disadvantages suffered by certain groups of people.

What doesn’t the Human Rights Act cover?

Sometimes unfair conduct or unequal treatment is not considered discriminatory under the Human Rights Act. The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission only has the jurisdiction (legal authority) to accept complaints where there is a reasonable basis to believe that someone was treated differently in one of the protected areas and that the differential treatment was based on one or more of the prohibited grounds.

The Human Rights Act also includes some exceptions to its protections. To find out if your situation falls within one of the exemptions, consult the Act, contact the Human Rights Commission here or seek independent legal advice. Contact the Public Legal Information Association of NL (PLIAN) to find out more information about its Legal Information Phone Line and Lawyer Referral Service.

The Human Rights Act does not apply to organizations that fall under federal jurisdiction. Organizations or activities that generally fall under federal jurisdiction include:

  • Chartered banks
  • Airlines
  • Television and radio stations
  • Telephone companies
  • Organizations that transport people or goods between provinces or countries such as certain trucking companies, courier companies, bus lines and railways

If your allegations are directed at the federal government or an organization which is under federal jurisdiction contact the:

Canadian Human Rights Commission
344 Slater Street, 8th Floor, Ottawa, ON K1A 1E1
Website: http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca
Phone: 613-995-1151
Toll-free: 1-888-214-1090
TTY: 1-888-643-3304
Fax: 613-996-9661