Queen's University IRC

The Seniority Principle: Is It Discriminatory?


Kathryn MacLeod

March 1, 1987

The increasing public awareness of the inequality prevalent in the Canadian workplace has led to a state whereby employees are questioning the effects that employment rules and practices have on them as individuals, as well as members of a group. Seniority systems are one such employment practice which is under examination for a discriminatory effect on women and minorities in the labour force. This paper pursues the questionable effects of seniority systems by examining; the remedial powers at the disposal of each legal forum available to an employee to pursue a discrimination claim, the relevant Canadian jurisprudence on discrimination, and the American experience with discrimination claims based on seniority. This paper concludes with a proposal detailing an outline of an affirmative action plan tailored to fit the Canadian situation as it is exposed by the previous sections of the paper.

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