Your fees at work: Equity Ombudsperson

The Law Society regularly highlights how annual practice fees are spent so that lawyers are aware of services to which they are entitled as well as programs that benefit from Law Society funding.

In this issue, we feature the Law Society’s Equity Ombudsperson.

Law firms have a duty to foster a professional work environment that promotes equal opportunities and prohibits discriminatory practices. Lawyers or employees who discriminate against or harass others in the firm may face a human rights complaint or a civil action, and these can result in serious damage awards. As well, lawyers may face a complaint to the Law Society.

For law firms, a commitment to equity contributes to a healthy bottom line. ­Discrimination in the workplace can lead to employee absenteeism, lack of productivity and resignations. If you lose your ­people, you lose your most valuable resource, including your investment in their recruitment and training. All of this can hurt your firm’s overall productivity, reputation and ability to attract new people in the future.

The Law Society provides BC law firms with the services of Equity Ombudsperson Anne Bhanu Chopra to encourage equitable workplace practices and help stop workplace discrimination.

Chopra operates independently of the Law Society and reports only anonymous, statistical data. She is available on a confidential basis to assist law firm ­employees in ­resolving concerns over possible discrimination, and help law firms in preventing discrimination and promoting a healthy work environment.

Law firm staff, students, lawyers, managing partners and human resource administrators are welcome to contact the Equity Ombudsperson, as are law students.

Services include confidential discussion, resource information, advice and strategies to meet obligations under the Human Rights Act and the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, educational seminars and more.

You can reach Anne Bhanu Chopra on her confidential, dedicated telephone line at 604.687.2344 or by email to achopra1@novuscom.net.


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