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Gender-Based Violence at Work

Part of our guide to your rights as a worker in B.C.

Workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under the BC’s Human Rights Code and the BC’s Workers Compensation Act. It is the employer’s responsibility to prevent sexual harassment. If sexual harassment occurs and your employer does nothing about it and/or  it’s the employer harassing their employees, workers can make a formal complaint. The employer is liable and may face repercussions such as financial compensation to workers.

Gender based and sexualized dress codes may be a form of discrimination based on sex or gender identity and violate BC’s Human Rights Code (for example,  when a restaurant requires all the women to wear skirts as a uniform). Gender-based footwear requirements as part of a uniform, like requiring women to wear high-heels to work, also violates BC’s Workers Compensation Act.

Discriminatory wage rates that pay people of one sex or gender identity lower than another for work that is similar may violate BC’s Human Rights Code. It’s illegal for an employer to pay women and gender diverse people less than men for comparable work. This is called pay discrimination.

Sexual and and domestic violence survivors are entitled to job-protect leave under the BC Employment Standards Act. Part-time and full-time employees (regardless of how long they’ve been employed) can take 5 days of paid leave plus 5 days of unpaid leave per calendar year. If more leave time is needed, employees can take up to 15 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave. Employees can also use this leave if their child is impacted by sexual or domestic violence.