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Accommodating Trans Employees in the Workplace

Caitlyn Jenner’s reach is long.

The buzz this newly transformed celeb has stirred about the transgender community warrants fresh attention from organizations big and small.

As of March 2015, seven Canadian provinces and territories explicitly specified protecting “gender identity” or “gender identity and gender expression” in their legislated human rights protections. Five provinces and territories are not explicit about these rights but have documents explaining how such protection is interpreted under other grounds such as “sex.”


And while, as of June 2015, national human rights legislation in Canada doesn’t explicitly protect “gender identity” and “gender expression,” such protections are interpreted under other grounds.

Here’s a snapshot:

Province Legislation
Alberta While the Alberta Human Rights Act doesn’t single out “gender identity” or “gender expression,” the Alberta Human Rights Complaint Form and Guide says that the protected grounds of discrimination regarding gender “includes the state of being female, male, transgender or two-spirited.” Further, Alberta Bill of Rights amendments that came into force on June 1, 2015, read, “It is hereby recognized and declared that in Alberta there exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or gender expression, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms…”
British Columbia While BC’s Human Rights Code doesn’t explicitly list “gender identity” under its prohibited grounds, the province’s Human Rights Commission notes that trans people are protected under the grounds of “sex.”
Saskatchewan The Human Rights Code of Saskatchewan explicitly includes “gender identity” within its prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Manitoba The Human Rights Code of Manitoba explicitly lists “gender identity” within its prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Ontario The Human Rights Code of Ontario explicitly lists “gender identity” and “gender expression” in its enumerated grounds of discrimination references.
Quebec Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms doesn’t excplicitly make mention of “gender identity” in its prohibited grounds of discrimination, but it does protect trans people’s from harassment and discrimination under the grounds of “sex.”
New Brunswick While the Human Rights Act of New Brunswick doesn’t explicitly mention “gender identity” under its prohibited grounds of discrimination, the province’s Human Rights Commission protects trans people under the grounds of “sex.”
Nova Scotia The Human Rights Act of Nova Scotia explicitly enumerates “gender identity” and “gender expression” inside its protections.
Prince Edward Island The Human Rights Act of Prince Edward Island explicitly lists “gender identity” and “gender expression” in its enumerated grounds of discrimination references.
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador explicitly include “gender identity” and “gender expression” in its Human Rights Act.
Yukon Territory The Human Rights Act of Yukon Territory doesn’t explicitly list “gender identity” in its prohibited grounds of discrimination, but the territory’s Human Rights Commission protects trans people under the grounds of “gender.”
Northwest Territories The Human Rights Act of Northwest Territories explicitly includes “gender identity” in its protection notes.
Nunavut Territory The Human Rights Act of Nunavut Territory does not explicitly list “gender identity” under its prohibited grounds of discrimination, but according to the Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal, trans people are protected under the grounds of “sex.”


Some suggestions for Canadian employers with transgender or transitioning employees:

Gender-based self-identification

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal made it clear in 2012 that it is discriminatory for an employer to insist that an employee be treated in accordance with the gender assigned at birth for employment purposes, because such behaviour fails to treat that person in accordance with his/her “lived and felt” gender identity. Other provinces are following suit.

Personal pronouns

Employers should support a new transgendered employee or a currently transitioning employee by using the employee’s preferred pronouns and names and, where possible, updating corporate records to reflect the same.

Dress codes

Employees should be allowed to dress according to their expressed gender, and employers’ dress-code policies should accommodate transgender or gender non-conforming individuals (e.g., staffers shouldn’t have to wear clothing stereotypical of their birth gender, such as ties for men or dresses for women).

Confidential record-keeping

An organization should have a valid reason for collecting and using personal information that identifies a person’s gender, and it should keep this information confidential.

Public bathrooms

Trans people should have access to bathrooms, change rooms and other gender-specific services and facilities based on their “lived” gender identities.

It behoves employers to learn about how to accommodate the needs of trans people and, if required, to develop or change policies, and undertake training, around them. Only by doing so can the country’s professional operations ensure that gender non-conforming individuals in their employ are treated with dignity and respect, enjoy equal rights and are protected against discrimination.

Paying Higher Wages May Score Companies More Productivity: Study

The relationship between the rate of pay a job commands and the value of that job to an organization has long been the subject of study, debate and tortured contemplation. Ideally, a company hits the sweet spot between paying enough to confer the appropriate appreciation on a position; not so little that it discourages the worker from putting in meaningful effort, but not so much that it takes on the stench of an overinflated fat-cat post whose value could never align with the paycheque.

Tricky business, this.

But a new study from the US Department of Commerce confirms a home truth: there’s an undeniable link between pay rates and productivity.

The study, drawing from a special tabulation of data from a 2011 survey of manufacturers, finds that payrolls per employee rise in direct relation to value added per employee.

The study’s authors suggest three reasons for this reality:

  • the extension of higher wages tends to attract workers with more and better skills;
  • those companies with richer rates are better able to keep employees;
  • higher-paying firms adopt practices to increase the return from these skilled and motivated workers.

In statistical terms, says the research, the variables of payroll and value-add have a correlation coefficient of nearly 0.7, stronger for establishments in the bottom quartile (greater than 0.75) than in the top (about 0.55), indicating a closer link between productivity and wages among lower-paying than higher-paying establishments.

That different establishments in the same industry pay very different wages (workers in the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry, for example, earn an average of $34 per hour [as of May 2015], while those in apparel manufacturing earn just $17 per hour), says the study’s accompanying analysis, suggests more than one “production recipe” is viable.

In the so-called “high-road” recipe, firms harness the knowledge of all their workers to create innovative products and processes — and the higher wages are offset by workers’ higher productivity.

Easy peasy then. Bring on the raises.

How to Be the Office Cool Cat

We’re going to lighten it up a little this week (mostly because it’s too hot to lift anything heavy), and offer some practical advice for not getting overheated in a humid office. So kick back, strip down (ever mindful of the office dress codes!) and grab yourself a cold one (again, observing public protocols) and consider these tips for keeping your cool at work:

coolcatChill out your beverage. Change the temperature of your usual caffeine boost by switching out a hot cup of joe for an iced coffee. And keep the thing cold with a mini USB fridge that plugs right into your laptop.

Blow yourself. Set yourself up with an office-sized desk fan (ideally a discreet, quiet-running one), and make it more effective by blasting it across a bowl of ice water. Or create your own personal wind tunnel by placing your fans on the ledges of opposing open windows.

Be topical. Score yourself the instant relief that comes with some of the unique new cooling methods currently blowing through the offices of Japan. Users can apply foam sprays and gels to the backs of their necks and around their wrists or swipe a new-fangled “icy sheet” across their sweaty skin.

Get cool clothes. Jockey’s got a line of unmentionables — StayCool — that it claims can regulate your skin temperature by up to three degrees. The undershirts and underwear come in both men’s and women’s lines. And consider dressing up the exterior with a cooling necktie, a nifty new fashion statement that plugs into your USB port and shoots cool air into your mug with a simple tug.

Eat light. Foods loaded with calories pump up your body’s metabolism and increase your core temperature, so bring on the lettuce. Similarly, steer clear of caffeinated beverages that act as a diuretic — the resulting dehydration will heat you up.

Summer’s pleasures outweigh its pains by a good distance, but there’s no denying the forethought required to negotiate the sweatier parts of the season. Having a cool-down plan is key.