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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. Strengthening Bill 3 (“Pay Transparency Act”) to protect human rights

    April 18, 2018 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on Bill 3, An Act respecting transparency of pay in employment (the Bill). The OHRC is encouraged by the Bill’s potential to narrow the persistent gender pay gap and other employment discrimination. To be most effective, the draft legislation requires amendments as outlined below.

  2. Implementation of Human Rights Settlement: OHRC letter to the Ottawa Police Services Board

    May 16, 2017 - Dear Councillor El-Chantiry, Today the Ottawa Police Services Board is receiving the results of Phase III of the Ottawa Police Services Gender Project.  As you know, the project arises out of a settlement reached with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (Commission) in a human rights case filed by a female Ottawa Police Services (OPS) officer. 

  3. Re: Implementing recommendations of the UN Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women

    February 3, 2017 - Dear Minister Naidoo-Harris: I am writing to you in keeping with the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s mandate to promote and protect human rights in Ontario. First, let me congratulate you on your recent appointment as the new Minister of Women’s Issues for Ontario.

  4. 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.

  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. 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:

  7. Sexual harassment & sex discrimination at work

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

    March 8, 2016 - The OHRC recognizes the severe impacts of sexual harassment on working women and trans people. It can reduce employees’ morale, decrease productivity and contribute to physical and emotional effects such as anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. The United Nations’ Declaration of the Elimination of Violence Against Women specifically recognizes that sexual harassment is a form of violence against women.

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