Is causing offence discrimination?

The difference between taking offence and being disadvantaged from discrimination
By Tom Mitchell
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/06/2017

Question: Does discrimination include someone taking offence at something in the workplace based on a protected human rights ground such as religion or sex? Does it matter if there was no intention to offend?

Answer: The primary focus of human rights legislation across Canada is to address the notion of distinctions that impose differential burdens, obligations or disadvantages upon a person because of an actual or presumed membership in a group, according to Toronto employment lawyer Stacey Ball in his book Canadian Employment Law.

An employee who takes offence at something in the workplace (for instance, a comment by another co-worker or some other negative occurrence), without anything more, likely does not constitute prima facie discrimination.