In Canada the Human Rights Act protects against discrimination relating to

race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

Despite this, I know certain job types that routinely discriminate based on sex. For example (at least where I live) jobs to promote certain products face to face in public venues often specify 'male' or 'female'. Also when hiring actors for film, they hire based on skin colour and sex (e.g. a military scene probably has mainly males). Wouldn't non-co-ed sports teams technically be in violation too? Are there exceptions to the law to allow such activities?

1 Answer 1



15 (1) It is not a discriminatory practice if

(a) any refusal, exclusion, expulsion, suspension, limitation, specification or preference in relation to any employment is established by an employer to be based on a bona fide occupational requirement;

Actors fall clearly within the exemption - when casting Othello you are allowed to advertise for a reasonably young black man. Other “bona fide occupational requirement” can be more problematical.

By the way, similar exemptions are pretty much universal in all jurisdictions.

  • 2
    +1 for using Othello, but he wasn't "young" in the play. He was uncomfortably older than Desdemona. Also, fun fact, but Patrick Stewart did star as Othello opposite an all Black cast, to preserve the "otherness" Othello's skin color represented.
    – hszmv
    Mar 12, 2018 at 13:30
  • 2
    @hszmv as your Patrick Stewart example implies, a particular production might require a young Othello for artistic reasons unrelated to the characteristics expressed in the script.
    – phoog
    Mar 12, 2018 at 20:23
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    @phoog: True. Though Patrick Stewart was an "old man" when he played Captain Jean Luc Picard... he hasn't gotten younger (nor has he outwardly aged).
    – hszmv
    Mar 13, 2018 at 14:56
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    Also, if would be silly if a church wanted to hire a new priest (or a synagogue a new rabbi) and they wouldn't be allowed to use religion in the job description.
    – vsz
    Oct 15, 2019 at 6:22

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