Definitions and Key Terms | Human Rights & Positive Environment | UNB

Definitions and key terms

Understanding the language of human rights is integral to supporting a positive environment and when identifying behaviours or situations that require intervention; the following list will support you in broadening your understanding of key equity, diversity and inclusion terms. 

Also see the new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Glossary Project on the UNB Equity, Diversity & Inclusion website

The language of human rights

Behaviour which serves no legitimate purpose and which the instigator knows, or ought reasonably to know, has the effect of creating an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive environment.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • bullying,
  • intimidation,
  • coercion,
  • physical assault,
  • vexatious or malicious comment, or
  • the abuse of power, authority or influence.

Behaviour conducted in whole or in part through electronic means shall be included within this definition. The reasonable exercise of administrative or academic authority does not of itself constitute harassment.


Conduct of a sexual nature such as, but not limited to, verbal abuse or threats of a sexual nature, unwelcome sexual invitations or requests, demands for sexual favours, or repeated innuendos or taunting about a person's body, appearance or sexual orientation, constitutes sexual harassment when:

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, academic status or academic accreditation, or
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment, or for academic performance, status or accreditation decisions affecting such individual, or
  • such conduct interferes with an individual's work or academic performance, or
  • such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment.

Differential treatment of an individual or group of individuals which is based, in whole or in part, on one or more ground as defined [in the Policy Statement], and which thus has an adverse impact on the individual or group of individuals; or the application of a seemingly fair and equal rule, policy, process or procedure to an individual or group of individuals which, as a result of one or more ground of that individual or group, has an adverse impact on [them] that would not be suffered by others who do not share such ground. (UNB Policy and Procedure on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Harassment, 2011)


The New Brunswick Human Rights Act forbids discrimination and harassment on a series of “grounds” in the provision of employment, accommodation or services:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Age
  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex
  • Social condition, and
  • Political belief or activity

“Services” under the Human Rights Act has been determined to include the provision of educational services such as those provided by UNB.

In its Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, UNB extends the list of Human Rights Grounds to include “Gender identity”.

In its Policy and Procedure on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Harassment, UNB extends the list of protected grounds to include those groups identified in the various collective agreements.

Note: Resolution of complaints based on grounds beyond those defined in the New Brunswick Human Rights Act may be limited to the internal processes of the university.


Not to be confused with “equality”, equity helps us focus on treating individuals fairly rather than treating everyone the same.

Since we all have different abilities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, cultural practices and beliefs, it is important that we attempt to recognize and respect those differences in the way we treat each individual person. Equity involves ensuring that every member of a community is treated fairly according to his or her own personal needs and identities.

It is often necessary to ensure that people are treated differently but equitably rather than equally, since equal treatment – enforcing the same rules on everyone – can sometimes lead to unfairness.


The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is inherently unique, and recognizing individual differences. Diversity is commonly used to refer to differing dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies.