The various human rights statutes in Canada, federally and provincially, forbid actions that cause Human Rights Violations and Discrimination against people based on a protected ground(s). One of these grounds includes that of Family Status Discrimination and is a prohibited ground under all Canadian legislation.
Family status protects a range of families and familial relationships from discrimination while recognizing that families are becoming increasingly diverse. Family status discrimination can appear when a person is discriminated against based on:
The identity of a particular family member
Where parents are discriminated against for having children
Adult children who are discriminated against for caring for their aging parents.
The inclusion of childcare obligations within the definition of family status has been adopted across Canada. Family status protects non-biological parent and child relationships, which may be formed through adoption, fostering and step-parenting, in addition to, lone parent families and those headed by LGBT persons. Courts and tribunals have set out various accommodation tests when it comes to childcare.
Most recently, the Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal held that where childcare obligations are engaged, a person will have to be able to show that:
- They have a legal responsibility to care for a child under their supervision
- The current workplace rules present a real disadvantage to the relationship between the parent and child and the responsibilities flowing from that relationship, and/or to the employee’s work.
Eldercare responsibilities have also been held to be a foundation for a family status claim of discrimination. If an employee is a primary caregiver for his or her parent, an applicant may be able to make a claim of family status discrimination.