Examples of gendered and/or sexualized dress code requirements or expectations that may violate the Human Rights Code:
Goods, services and facilities
You have the right to be free from discrimination when you receive goods or services, or use facilities. For example, this right applies to:
- stores, restaurants and bars
- hospitals and health services
- schools, universities and colleges
- public places, amenities and utilities such as recreation centres, public washrooms, malls and parks
- services and programs provided by municipal and provincial governments, including social assistance and benefits, and public transit
- services provided by insurance companies
- classified advertisement space in a newspaper.
Relevant policies and guides:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recreational clubs such as sports clubs may give different services or charge different fees to persons based on sex, marital status or family status. For example, special family rates in a community centre or women-only sections of a gym are permitted under the Code.