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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. Can I fire a woman whose pregnancy is preventing her from doing the job she was hired to do?

    From: Frequently asked questions

    It is discrimination if you fire, demote or lay off an employee because she is or may become pregnant or she is away on maternity leave or disability leave related to pregnancy. Employers have a duty to accommodate a pregnant woman unless it would cause undue hardship. This may include changing her job duties temporarily or providing time off work.

  2. Consultation report: Human rights issues in insurance

    October 2001 - In October 1999, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a Discussion Paper for public consultation entitled Human Rights Issues in Insurance. This Consultation Report summarizes comments and viewpoints that were communicated to the Commission. The Report also examines possible directions to ensure human rights issues in insurance continue to receive attention in the future. A summary of relevant Code sections and selected case law is included in the appendices.
  3. Discussion paper: Human rights issues in insurance

    October 1999 - The objective of the Paper is twofold: to promote dialogue on protecting human rights in the insurance industry and to examine alternatives to current practices by obtaining input from experts, regulators and consumers. Access to insurance in our society raises significant issues about distributive justice and fairness in the public sphere, issues that have received scant attention in Canada and in Ontario where rate setting has traditionally been viewed as a private matter.
  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. 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. 

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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