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Human rights

Civil status: prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment | CDPDJ

Civil status

Civil status

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You believe you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment based on this ground?

Civil status corresponds to your family situation. It can mean being single, married, in a civil union, adopted, divorced, a member of a single-parent family, or any form of family ties or affinity with another person.

Social condition is a prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment. This means that you cannot be treated differently because of your civil status. Also, you cannot be the target of offensive and repeated remarks or behaviour because of your civil status. These situations are contrary to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window..

For example, you cannot be denied a hotel room because you are not legally married.

Eric and Rosanne are married and both work for the same company. After a dispute with his supervisor, Eric resigned. During the next few days, Rosanne’s work was monitored more than usual, despite the fact that she had worked there for 10 years and that her evaluations had always been excellent. Fed up with this situation, Rosanne asked the general manager to correct the situation. The latter told her that Eric’s resignation had complicated the situation, and he fired her.


Fatou made an appointment by phone with a landlord to visit an apartment for rent. She went to the apartment the same afternoon with her baby, but the landlord did not let her visit the apartment, telling her that it was already rented. Yet, the “For rent” sign was still on display.


The following judgments are examples related to this ground of discrimination. The complete list of judgments issued by Canadian Courts are available on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s website This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.. You can do a search by grounds of discrimination.

Here are some of our publications related to this ground of discrimination. You can find all our publications on this ground of discrimination using a keyword on the Publications' page.

English language translations are provided when available.

Please note: These answers are to be used for information purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice.

  1. In a hiring interview, can they ask me the name and profession of my spouse, as well as the number of dependents?

    No, however, they can ask you if you would “be available to travel as part of your duties”, or if you would “be available to work evenings and weekends”.

  2. During a selection interview, can they ask me if I have family ties with one or more persons working for the company?

    No, however, if the employer has adopted an anti-nepotism policy prohibiting favouritism toward relatives, the employer could indicate it in its application form. During the interview, the employer may ask a question about possible family ties that could place the candidate in a conflict of interest. Some questions may be legitimately asked after hiring for tax or social benefits purposes. After hiring, employees may also be asked their relationship with the people to contact in case of emergency.

  3. I was denied rental of an apartment because I have two children. The landlord said that “they will be too noisy”. Can I be denied an apartment because I have children?

    No, a person cannot be denied an apartment because they have children. Refusing to rent an apartment to a woman because she is a single parent is also prohibited.

  4. I am married and mother of three children. I recently applied for a supervisor position, but my employer preferred to give the job to an unmarried co-worker with less experience than me. My employer suggested that he chose her because she has no children, and because she has more time and energy for the job. Is this acceptable?

    No, employers have the responsibility to evaluate you according to your skills and training. You cannot be excluded from a job based on your civil status, that is based on the fact that you are married and a mother.

  5. Can a camp site or hotel restrict its access to clients with children?

    No, that is discrimination based on civil status since the establishment gives preference to families and excludes people with no children.

The following video is in American Sign Language (ASL) and is not accessible with a screen reader.

This video presents the topic of civil status in American Sign Language (ASL)  This link will redirect you to an external website which may present barriers to accessibility..


Did you know?

In Québec, same-sex couples have had the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples since 1999.