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Sex

The Code does not specifically define the ground of “sex,” but the OHRC considers it to be related to a person’s biological sex, male or female. Men and women receive equal protection under this ground. The ground of “sex” also includes a broader notion of “gender,” which can be described as the social characteristics attributed to each sex.

The Code protects men and women from harassment and discrimination, including assumptions about their abilities that result from stereotypes about how men and women ”should” behave, dress or interact. The right to equal treatment without discrimination because of sex also applies to pregnancy.

Relevant policies: 

  1. OHRC Insurance consultation cover letter

    October 14, 1999 - Insurance practices routinely make distinctions based on, among other things, gender, age, marital status and disability. While many of these distinctions are based on valid business practices, others raise questions and concerns. These concerns relate to the existence of non-discriminatory alternatives to current practices and about respect for human rights.

  2. Restrictions of facilities by sex

    From: Guide to your rights and responsibilities under the Human Rights Code

    This section allows separate washrooms, examination areas, change rooms and other services that are men-only or women-only. Trans people should be provided access to facilities that are consistent with their lived gender identity.[34]


    [34] For more information, see the OHRC’s Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity (2000).

  3. OHRC policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes

    March 8, 2016 - Some Ontario employers require female employees to dress in a sexualized or gender-specific way at work, such as expecting women to wear high heels, short skirts, tight clothing or low-cut tops. These kinds of dress codes reinforce stereotypical and sexist notions about how women should look and may violate Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

  4. Dress Code checklist for employers

    From: OHRC policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes

    Removing barriers based on sex and gender

    This checklist can help organizations make sure that their dress codes and uniform policies are consistent with Ontario’s Human Rights Code protections relating to sex and gender, as set out in the OHRC’s Policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes.

    Dress codes/uniform policies should:

  5. Letter to MCSCS regarding data on the use of segregation

    June 15, 2016 - Dear Minister Orazietti, Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.  The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is looking forward to working closely with you, especially as you continue to review the use of segregation within provincial jails, as well as the treatment of immigration detainees held in provincial custody.

  6. Re: Sexualized and gender-specific dress codes in restaurants

    July 8, 2016 - In pursuit of our public interest mandate, section 31 of the Code authorizes the OHRC to request production of documents and gather other information as part of an inquiry. Pursuant to section 31, we are writing to request that you review employee dress codes in your Ontario operations, remove any discriminatory requirements, and provide documentation showing that you have done this.

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