What is Discrimination?

General Definition

Discrimination is treating a person or group differently, to their disadvantage and without valid reason, on the basis of the following grounds called “protected characteristics”:

  • Ancestry
  • Nationality or national origin
  • Ethnic background or origin
  • Religion or creed, or religious belief, religious association or religious activity
  • Age
  • Sex, including gender-determined characteristics, such as pregnancy
  • Gender-identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital or family status
  • Source of income
  • Political belief, political association or political activity
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Social disadvantage

In addition to these listed characteristics, discrimination that is based on other group stereotypes, rather than on individual merit, is also prohibited under the College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy.

Key Elements

In order for there to be a finding of discrimination under the College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy, each of the following key elements must be present:

  • There must have been differential treatment (whether intentional or unintentional).
  • The treatment must have imposed burdens, obligations or disadvantages on the Complainant.
  • There must have been no valid reason for the treatment.
    (An example of a “valid reason” for discrimination is the imposition of bona fide requirements or qualifications for a job or field of study where those requirements/qualifications are reasonably necessary to the safe and efficient performance of the employment or field of study).
  • The treatment must have been based on a protected characteristic or other group stereotype.

(In determining whether or not discrimination has occurred, it is essential to establish a link between the differential treatment and the protected characteristic. “Bad treatment” is not necessarily based on a protected characteristic, just because the characteristic exists. It must be established that the characteristic was a factor in the differential treatment.) 

Examples of Discriminatory Behaviour

The following are some examples of discriminatory behaviour:

  • Excluding potential employees during recruitment on the basis of a protected characteristic
  • Withholding employment or educational opportunities on the basis of a protected characteristic
  • Employment or academic decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals with disabilities or of a certain sex, race, age, religion or ethnic group