Dalhousie Law Journal


Employment, sex discrimination, Human Rights Act


Nova Scotia enacted human rights legislation in 1963,2 but it was not until 1972 that the Act was amended to include sex as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. 3 Since 1957 women in Nova Scotia had had equal pay protection, 4 but this brought about no noticeable improvement in the status of women in the labour force. Some commentators have suggested that equal pay laws in fact worsened that status by giving employers economic incentives to maintain and consolidate low-paying all-female job ghettoes to avoid the effects of the legislation. 5 Equal pay legislation could have no application to women who were denied access to jobs and promotions, stratified in "women's" jobs and discriminated against in "conditions of employment" other than pay. It was in response to public pressure for comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation for women8 to back up equal pay provisions that the 1972 amendments were passed.