The Code states that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination or harassment because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.
The right to “equal treatment with respect to employment” covers every aspect of the workplace environment and employment relationship, including job applications, recruitment, training, transfers, promotions, apprenticeship terms, dismissal and layoffs. It also covers rate of pay, overtime, hours of work, holidays, benefits, shift work, discipline and performance evaluations.
Relevant policies and guides:
- Policy on removing the "Canadian experience" barrier
- Human rights at work 2008 - 3rd edition
- Guidelines on developing human rights policies and procedures
- Policy on employment-related medical information
- Policy on drug and alcohol testing
- Policy on requiring a drivers license as a condition of employment
- Human rights maturity model (Canadian Human Rights Commission)
On May 14, 2010, Ontario’s Divisional Court issued a decision on a case called Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Christian Horizons. The Divisional Court’s ruling was on the appeal of a 2008 decision made by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In that decision, the Tribunal found that Christian Horizons infringed the rights of an employee who was in a same sex relationship.
Dress codes, work schedules or shift work sometimes adversely affect individuals because of religious requirements. When this happens, the obligation to accommodate the individual, based on the needs of the group, is triggered under the Code.
Discrimination or unequal treatment may be legally defensible in certain circumstances.
1. Participating in special interest organizations
First, s. 18 of the Code provides that religious, philanthropic, educational, fraternal or social institutions that are primarily engaged in serving the interests of persons who are identified by their creed, may give priority to persons of the same creed with regard to participation or membership.
Testing for HIV infection would constitute a medical examination. It is the OHRC's position that any medical examination carried out for employment purposes should focus on verifying whether or not an individual is able to perform the essential duties of a particular job.
Employment is fundamental to ensuring equal participation and equal opportunity in society. It has a direct bearing on a person’s economic status while the person is in the workforce and afterwards. Therefore, any examination of age discrimination in employment must consider the effects of practices and policies on the person while they are working as well as after they have retired. It must also consider the effect on society as a whole.
Assumptions and stereotypes about older workers are unfortunately all too prevalent in our workplaces. Older workers are often unfairly perceived as less productive, less committed to their jobs, not dynamic or innovative, unreceptive to change, unable to be trained or costly to the organization due to health problems and higher salaries. These ideas about older workers are simply myths that are not borne out by evidence. In fact, there is significant evidence that older workers:
Employment and family often entail competing responsibilities: spouses or partners fall sick, daycare arrangements fall through, an aging parent needs help in making a transition to assisted living arrangements. For many workers, daily life involves a complicated juggling act between the demands, deadlines and responsibilities of the workplace, and the needs of their families.
What are the lessons we can learn? How can we move towards a different world: one where there is public support for child rearing and care giving; one where both men and women are given equal roles and responsibilities; one where care giving requirements don’t fall on people who are already struggling?
To a significant degree, the workplace is still built on the assumption that families are composed in a ‘traditional’ fashion, of two married heterosexual parents, one of whom is providing full-time caregiving for children, aging relatives, and other family members as necessary. Work schedules, policies and benefits all too often reflect the assumption that employees do not have substantial caregiving obligations. The corollary to this assumption is the belief that workers who do have substantial caregiving obligations are in some way inferior and undesirable employees.
The Code sets out only three considerations. This means that no other considerations, other than those that can be brought into those three standards, can be properly considered under Ontario law. There have been cases that have included such other factors as employee morale or conflict with a collective agreement. However, the Ontario legislature has seen fit to enact a higher standard by specifically limiting undue hardship to three particular components.