The Ontario Human Rights Code is designed to ensure that every person has a right to equal treatment in respect of the five social areas that it applies to: employment, housing, services, unions and vocational associations and contracts. One of the most common social areas that the Human Rights Code arises in is employment, which extends out to all aspects of the employment relationship including job postings, hiring practices, treatment in the workplace, etc.
Discrimination may occur in the workplace when an employee is harassed or treated differently and adversely based on one or more “prohibited grounds”. Some of the most common prohibited grounds that give rise to claims of discrimination in the workplace are disability, age, sex, religion, race, and family status.
Given the broad application of the Human Rights Code, it is essential that employers ensure that their work practices, rules or requirements are (a) not directly discriminatory, and (b) are not indirectly discriminatory. Where such rules or practices are discriminatory, the Human Rights Code provides affected employees with a remedy (i.e. damages) for the breach of their rights to be free from impermissible discrimination in the workplace.
When facing a human rights issue in your workplace, there are a number of factors that must be considered ranging from the basis of the concern, the steps that have been taken to address those concerns, and the ultimate outcome/impact that the employer's decision or rule has had.
If you or your business requires legal advice with respect to your respective rights and obligations relative to the Human Rights Code, we would be pleased to speak with you and ask that you please contact us today.