Define Discrimination & Harassment

Inappropriate workplace behaviour, conduct or comments that can be perceived to be belittling or condescending go against the BC Public Service's corporate values and Standards of Conduct for public service employees.


All employees have the right to work without discrimination. The prohibited grounds of discrimination in the BC Human Rights Code include “race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, family status, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, sex, age, sexual orientation, political belief or conviction of a criminal or summary conviction offence unrelated to their employment.”


The definition of harassment under the BC Human Rights Code is included in collective agreements and the Human Resources Policy 11 - Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace. Prohibited conduct may be verbal, non-verbal, physical, deliberate or unintended, unsolicited or unwelcome, as determined by a reasonable person. It may be one incident or a series of incidents, depending on the context.

Harassment refers to upsetting behaviour or comments that ought to reasonably be known as offensive or unwelcome. 

Harassment includes, but is not limited to

  • Actions or comments that are directed at no person in particular but that create an intimidating, demeaning or offensive work environment
  • Any objectionable comment, act or display that demeans, belittles, compromises or causes personal humiliation or embarrassment and any act of intimidation or threat
  • Offensive behaviour

Misuse of Supervisory Authority 

Many public service collective agreements also address the misuse of supervisory authority. They provide procedural protections for employees whose supervisors harass or bully them on grounds which are not specifically outlined in the Human Rights Code. For example, under the BCGEU Collective Agreement, Article 1.10 states that misuse of managerial authority occurs when a person who supervises exercises that authority in a manner that serves no legitimate work purpose which a reasonable person would consider inappropriate.

To learn more about discrimination and harassment, review HR Policy 11.

Courses on discrimination prevention are also offered by the Learning Centre.