FREDERICTON (GNB) – The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission has issued a new Guideline on Pregnancy Discrimination on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated today.

On Dec. 10, people from New Brunswick and around the world are invited to celebrate this day, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948. This year, the commission wishes to focus on pregnancy discrimination, especially since Article 23 of the declaration states that everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment.

“Discrimination against pregnant women and women of childbearing age manifests in subtle ways and works to marginalize and disempower these women, preventing them from following their career paths and achieving their full professional potential,” said commission chair Nathalie Chiasson. “Conduct, practices, or policies that discriminate against women because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related circumstances are in violation of human rights legislation. This guideline is being issued to remind employers, landlords, and service providers that, under the law, they must fulfill their obligation to accommodate these women, who contribute to the economic, social, and demographic development of New Brunswick society.”

The guideline is an educational resource that looks specifically, with the help of examples, at pregnancy discrimination in housing, services, and employment. The publication of this guideline is part of the commission's mandate to protect and promote human rights in the province and to foster a better understanding of the rights and responsibilities of New Brunswickers under the Human Rights Act.

“Employers must not treat their female employees differently because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related circumstances,” said Chiasson. “Any woman who feels she has been adversely affected, denied a service or a promotion, or demoted or excluded because of her pregnancy should consult the guideline and contact the commission.”

Chiasson also invited employers and managers to adopt a gender-diversity strategy to ensure their business offers equitable distribution of pay and equitable distribution of all jobs. The Guide to Gender Diversity in Employment is available online.

For more information about the act or the commission’s publications, New Brunswickers can call 506-453-2301 or 1-888-471-2233 (toll-free in New Brunswick). They can also visit the commission's website or send an email to hrc.cdp@gnb.ca.