- Why isn’t it an obvious violation of human rights to do mandatory collection of an employee’s fluids or breath that could reveal a disability?
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognizes that it is a legitimate goal for employers to have a safe workplace. Safety at work can be negatively affected by many factors, including fatigue, stress, distractions and hazards in the workplace. Drug and alcohol testing is one method employers sometimes use to address safety concerns arising from drug and alcohol use. Drug and alcohol testing has particular human rights implications for people with addictions. Addictions to drugs or alcohol are considered “disabilities” under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). The Code prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and perceived disabilities in employment, services, housing and other social areas.
The Ontario Human Rights Code
The Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) provides for equal rights and opportunities and freedom from discrimination. The Code recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario.
The Code prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and perceived disabilities in employment, services, housing and other social areas. Under the Code, disabilities include addictions to drugs and alcohol.
On May 31, 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario unanimously upheld decisions by the HRTO, which had found that Sharon Fair (Fair) had been subjected to employment-related discrimination by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (the School Board) and had ordered compensation for special and for general damages ($30,000) as well as an order for Fair’s reinstatement. The HRTO’s decisions had earlier been upheld by the Divisional Court.
April 2016: We are currently revising our Policy on drug and alcohol testing (2000). This summary contains some of the important points employers should be aware of in the interim. The updated policy will be available before the end of the year.
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.
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.
Toronto - A settlement has been reached with the Ottawa Police in a case that alleged a female police officer was denied training, job placement and promotion opportunities because of her family status, sex and maternity leaves. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) intervened at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to address systemic barriers to promotion and advancement that women can face.
September 18, 2015 - The Ontario government is consulting on the changing nature of the modern workplace and considering how the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act could be amended to best protect workers, especially historically under-represented groups. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) makes this submission in accordance with its mandate to promote and advance human rights under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
September 18, 2015 - Dear Minister, The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is pleased to make this submission to the Ministry of Labour’s Changing Workplaces Review.