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Nova Scotia
Equal Employment Opportunity

Overview

Please review the information below and then return to the workplace harassment and violence prevention course.

Applicable Laws

The primary Nova Scotia law prohibiting employment discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of any protected ground is the Human Rights Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 214.

The Violence in the Workplace Regulations, N.S. Reg. 209/2007 prohibit harassment and violence in the workplace.

Protected Grounds

Harassment or discrimination based on any ground set forth below is prohibited in Nova Scotia.

  • Age,
  • race,
  • colour,
  • religion,
  • creed,
  • sex,
  • sexual orientation,
  • gender identity,
  • gender expression,
  • physical disability or mental disability,
  • an irrational fear of contracting an illness or disease,
  • ethnic, national or aboriginal origin,
  • family status,
  • marital status,
  • source of income,
  • political belief,
  • affiliation or activity,
  • and an individual’s association with another individual or class of individuals having any of these characteristics.

Some provincial or territorial laws provide additional, separate standards and remedies for certain prohibited conduct, such as laws addressing equal pay without regard to sex or other protected ground.

Definitions of Harassment and Violence

Harassment

Under the Human Rights Act, R.S.N.S.1989, c. 214, “harass” means engaging in a course of vexatious conduct or comment that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Harassment is discrimination when it is based upon a prohibited ground of discrimination.
“Sexual harassment” means any of the following:

Vexatious sexual conduct or a course of comment that is known or ought reasonably to be known as unwelcome.

A sexual solicitation or advance made to an individual by another individual where:
the other individual is in a position to confer a benefit on, or deny a benefit to, the individual to whom the solicitation or advance is made; and
where the individual who makes the solicitation or advance knows (or ought to reasonably know) that it is unwelcome.
A reprisal or threat of reprisal against an individual for rejecting a sexual solicitation or advance.

Violence


Under the Violence in the Workplace Regulations, N.S. Reg. 209/2007, “violence” means any of the following:
Threats, a threatening statement or threatening behaviour that gives an employee reasonable cause to believe that the employee is at risk of physical injury.


Conduct or attempted conduct of a person that endangers the physical health or physical safety of an employee.
The legislation does not distinguish between violence involving co-workers and violence that originates from others who may enter the workplace.

Filing a Claim in Nova Scotia

A claim for employment discrimination or harassment based on a protected ground may be filed with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

A claim related to workplace violence, including harassment, may be filed with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, OHS.

Retaliation Prohibited

Employer retaliation against an employee who files a complaint relating to harassment or workplace violence or is involved in the complaint process is unlawful.