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Human rights

Sex: prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment | CDPDJ



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

Sex is a prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment. This means that you cannot be treated differently because you are a woman, a man or intersex. Also, you cannot be the target of offensive and repeated remarks or behaviour because of your sex. 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 job or a promotion because you are a woman.​​​​​

Discrimination and harassment based on sex is different than sexual harassment. To learn more, see our page on sexual harassment.​

Nathalie is a security guard and works for an agency patrolling in a shopping centre. After a few years, she would like to work in a different place. When she asked the agency for a position in a bank, the agency refused. The agency explained to Nathalie that customers do not want women as guards in banks, that “customers are always right” and that “in any case, not many women have a gun permit”.

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. I am one of the few women who applied for a job as a mechanic in a heavy machinery factory. I have the training and the skills to perform the tasks required for the job. Yet, during the interview, I was asked if I was capable of working in a man’s environment. Does this question comply with the Charter?

    No. This is not a question you should be asked in an interview. The employer must ensure that all employees are respected by their co-workers.

  2. At work, I am subjected to comments about my personal appearance, questions about my love life and inappropriate touching from a fellow employee. Am I protected by the Charter?

    Yes, you are a victim of sexual harassment. You can take steps to put an end to this situation, either at work if your employer has adopted a policy or procedures to counter such a situation or by filing a complaint with the Commission.
    Learn more on sexual harassment

  3. Can my application for an early childhood educator position be refused because I am a man?

    No, that constitutes discrimination based on sex. Employers must look at a person’s skills and experience when assessing candidates.

  4. Can a security officer ask me to leave a public place such as a restaurant or a shopping centre because I am breastfeeding my child?

    No, the Human Rights Tribunal has rendered a decision This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.(in French only) confirming that “breastfeeding is not an act of exhibitionism; it is an act of nature intimately related to a woman’s ability to give birth to a child”.
The following video is in American Sign Language (ASL) and is not accessible with a screen reader.

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


To learn more