March 18, 2014

Legislative Update: Human Rights Act, RSPEI 1988, c H-12

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Prince Edward Island recently became the third Atlantic Canadian province to expressly include "gender expression" and "gender identity" as protected grounds under the Human Rights Act, RSPEI 1988, c H-12 (the “Act”).  The Act was amended by Bill 11, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act, to include the new protected grounds.  Royal assent was granted on December 6, 2013. 

Although past claims dealing with discrimination or harassment on these grounds have been accepted under the enumerated ground of “sex,” this legislative amendment reiterates the message that transgender, transsexual, intersex, crossdresser, trans, and other persons who express gender differently than their birth-assigned sex are afforded protection under the Act.

The new grounds are not defined in the Act; however, the Ontario Human Rights Commission defines “gender identity” as being “linked to a person’s sense of self, and the sense of being male or female.”  Whereas “gender expression” refers to external attributes, behavior, appearance, dress, etc.

In light of this amendment, see our recent article regarding implications for employers in those jurisdictions which have included grounds of “gender identity” and “gender expression” in human rights legislation (Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island): What are an Employer's Obligations with Respect to Gender Identity?



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