Labour & Regulatory Services - Workplace, Safety & Health

FAQs: Discriminatory Action


In Manitoba, workers have the right to report unsafe work, raise safety concerns, refuse dangerous work, and participate in safety and health activities without fear of job loss or negative treatment at work. Negative treatment may include being passed over for a promotion, a change in work duties, or loss of wages or hours.

This type of negative action against a worker is considered discriminatory action, and is illegal under The Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Examples: Which of the following is considered a discriminatory action?

Example 1:

  1. A worker is asked to do a different job task while the employer inspects a hazard the worker pointed out may be in the workplace.
  2. A worker is sent home for the day without pay after refusing to perform a job task they believe is dangerous to their safety and health, or the safety and health of another person.

    Correct answer: B - A worker is sent home for the day without pay after refusing to perform a job task they believe is dangerous to their safety and health, or the safety and health of another person.

Example 2:

  1. A worker asks a supervisor where the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are kept before starting work with a new chemical. The next day, the worker receives a written reprimand for taking too long to start work.
  2. Workers and supervisors are trained on where to find MSDSs for each chemical in the workplace.

    Correct answer: A - A worker asks a supervisor where the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are kept before starting work with a new chemical. The next day, the worker receives a written reprimand for taking too long to start work.

WSH Response:

Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) may choose to investigate based on a review of the facts.

WSH Client Services:

  • WSH Client Services Officer takes a first look at the concern, including any information given to WSH by the worker, employer or union.
  • After reviewing the concern, WSH Client Services Officer may or may not assign the case to a Safety and Health Officer (SHO).
  • If the case is not assigned to an SHO, the case is closed.
  • If the case is sent to an SHO, the SHO will further review the case and follow up with the worker.

WSH Investigation:

  • The SHO will contact the worker, the employer, and/or or anyone with information about the case.
  • The SHO will visit the workplace, collecting information and documents.
  • The SHO will decide the outcome based on the facts. A report of the decision will be given to the worker and employer. This report must be posted on the workplace’s safety and health bulletin board.
  • Orders may be issued to the employer. These orders must be posted on the workplace’s safety and health bulletin board.

Appeals of SHO Decision:

If you are affected by an order or decision of an SHO relating to discriminatory action, you have the right to appeal to the director of WSH within 14 days after the date of the order or decision.

A notice of appeal must include the reasons for the appeal and include the names of others that are involved or may be affected by the case.

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Send appeals to:

Director, Workplace Safety and Health
200-401 York Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 0P8
Fax: 204-948-2209

Administrative Penalties and Prosecution:

Depending on the facts of the case, an employer or union may also be issued an administrative penalty or face prosecution under The Workplace Safety and Health Act.

WSH Legal Requirements:

See Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act, W210, www.manitoba.ca/labour/safety/wshl.html :

  • Section 1, Definitions
  • Section 37, Appeal to director
  • Section 42, Discriminatory action

To Report a Suspected ‘Discriminatory Action’:

Call WSH at: 204-957-SAFE (7233), toll-free 1-855-957-SAFE (7233), Select ‘Option 1’

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