Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Discrimination Definition:

A distinction based on the personal characteristics of an individual resulting in some disadvantage to that individual.

Related Terms: Affirmative Action, Apartheid, Human Dignity, Human Right, Hate Crime, Racial Pollution, Racism

Discrimination is a term used often in human rights law to distinguish the differential treatment of an individual because of a prohibited ground.

For example, Quebec's human rights statute, at §10:

"Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap. Discrimination exists where such a distinction, exclusion or preference has the effect of nullifying or impairing such right."

In Andrews, Canada's Supreme Court wrote:

"Discrimination may be described as a distinction, whether intentional or not but based on grounds relating to personal characteristics of the individual or group, which has the effect of imposing burdens, obligations, or disadvantages on such individual or group not imposed upon others, or which withholds or limits access to opportunities, benefits, and advantages available to other members of society. Distinctions based on personal characteristics attributed to an individual solely on the basis of association with a group will rarely escape the charge of discrimination, while those based on an individual's merits and capacities will rarely be so classed."

Harassment is an overt form of discrimination.

REFERENCES:


Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!