Human rights

There is increasing pressure on businesses to take steps to ascertain, manage and account for their human rights impacts and explain how they are accomplishing this. This pressure is taking on a more obvious legal dimension, as notions of moral and ethical responsibility begin to transform into harder edged legal duties, predominantly through legislative and regulatory developments and litigation.

Around the world, our lawyers advise clients on compliance with human rights laws, as well as the principal international frameworks containing human rights requirements for businesses, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, IFC Performance Standards and the Equator Principles.

In many regions, legislation has been enacted, aimed at improving corporate reporting on human rights issues and introducing mandatory human rights due diligence. The expectation on businesses to consider their environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts is already familiar to many companies, particularly those with a prominent public profile dependent on a strong reputation. Increasingly, these corporates are under scrutiny from regulators, investors and shareholders, customers, the public and other stakeholders to demonstrate respect for human rights, and we are able to help navigate the intricacies of necessary processes and reporting mechanisms to ensure human rights impact risks are identified and mitigated.

Our Canadian employment and labour team represents and advises employers and service providers, in both the public and private sectors, on complex human rights matters, pay equity disputes, employment equity issues and constitutional questions. Federally, our leading team of legal professionals assist in navigating intricate pieces of legislation that relate to human and constitutional rights, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Employment Equity Act, Pay Equity Act, equal pay provisions under the Canada Labour Code, the Official Languages Act, the Indigenous Languages Act and the Accessible Canada Act. Provincially, we offer assistance in a wide range of human rights matters under various pieces of legislation that apply namely in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. In jurisdictions where the judicial language is both English and French, we provide advice and legal representation before the courts and tribunals in both official languages.

 

Our areas of work include

  • Business ethics and anti-corruption
  • Compliance with international and domestic laws
  • Corporate governance
  • Corporate reporting requirements
  • Crisis management
  • Due diligence and impact assessments
  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG)
  • Human rights-related complaints
  • Human rights training
  • Internal investigations
  • Policy development
  • Reputation and defamation protection

Awards and accolades

  • Chambers Canada, Nationwide: Business and Human Rights Law, Chambers and Partners, 2021
  • Chambers Global, Global-wide: Business and Human Rights Law, Chambers and Partners, 2020

Knowledge

indigenous hero image

Publication

Indigenous law update: Review of recent cases

Canadian flag on top of Parliament building peeking through arch of other building

Publication

Canada: From disrupted to tainted supply chains: Canadian legislation against modern slavery may be coming post-COVID

group of employees

Publication

Human rights: Global ESG portal