Human Rights in Ontario
This précis is not an exhaustive review of Ontario human rights law, policy or practice and it is not legal advice. For further information, please visit www.ohrc.on.ca/en
Ontario Human Rights Code – Fundamentals
What extents does the Code cover?
- The Code covers five zones:
- Services (for example, government services, hospitals, schools, public transit)
- Accommodation (for example, housing, hotels)
- Vocational association (for example, regulatory bodies, unions)
What facets of a person’s individuality (grounds) does the Code safeguard?
- The Code protects 15 grounds:
- Ethnic origin
- Family status
- Marital status
- Place of origin
- Receipt of public assistance (in area of accommodation)
- Record of offence (in area of employment)
- Sex / pregnancy / gender identity
- Sexual orientation
Determination as to whether or not an issue is covered by the Code?
- Use this sentence: This is discrimination based on ______ in the zone of ______.
Example: This is discrimination based on Age in the area of Employment.
Discrimination is handling somebody in a different way because of his or her race, disability, sex or other personal individualities. Discrimination takes many different forms. The fundamental is differential treatment.
Remarkably, the Code contemplates effect, not intent. This means that intent is not a prerequisite – if the result is differential treatment, it might be considered discrimination. Similarly, a person or organization can discriminate against someone even if he or she doesn’t intend to do so.
There are three categories of discrimination:
- Direct – may be elusive or concealed
- Indirect or ancillary – uses a third party (for example, using a fill-in agency to discriminate against a certain category of employee)
- Constructive/hostile – systemic discrimination, might not be intentional, but has an antagonistic impact on participants of that group
The OHRC Human Rights 101 learning module has valuable synopsis information and samples of discrimination.
Edifice of the Ontario Human Rights structure:
Ontario’s Human Rights system is made up of three isolated administrations.
Each body has a dissimilar role:
- Ontario Human Rights Commission: Develops policies, provides public education, monitoring and community outreach, and initiates or intervenes in inquiries. Deals with the “responsibilities” side of human rights.
- Human Rights Legal Support Centre: The Centre can help you file an application and may represent you at the Tribunal. Deals with the “rights” side of human rights.
- Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario: Deals with complaints.
Ontario Human Rights Code and Employment:
Goldfields Legal focuses on preserving your human rights in the sphere of employment.
Aspects of employment that the Code covers:
- The Code covers all stages of employment processes and practices (recruiting, hiring, promotion, etc.).
Which employers does the Ontario Human Rights Code protect?
- The Code protects all employers in Ontario – except for federally-regulated employers, which are protected by The Canadian Human Rights Code.
- An employer cannot contract out their accountabilities – fill-in agencies and head hunters must also adhere to the Code.
Are short-term foreign workers in Ontario protected by the Code?
Defining discrimination in employment:
- Discrimination means not weighing an individual’s inimitable merits, abilities and situations.
What could be contemplated as systemic discrimination in employment?
Policies, practices and patterns of comportment and outlooks (including organizational culture) can be measured as inequitable.
Factors that create obstructions to achievement or prospect, and are not bona fide necessities, may be discriminatory.
They might not seem acquiescently discriminatory, but have the consequence of discriminating against members of a protected assemblage.
For example, if promotion practices based on the organizational culture and capabilities of white managers result in inferior numbers of “racialized” individuals promoted to management roles, this may possibly be discrimination.
How does one determine a bona fide prerequisite of the job?
- The Code uses a extraordinary standard to determine bona fide prerequisites. A bona fide prerequisite must be:
- Embraced for a single-mindedness that is realistically associated to the job function; and
- Embraced in good faith / bone fide; and
- Realistically essential.
The OHRC recommends the following in order to avoid discrimination in hiring:
- The Commission recommends establishing hiring conclusions on assessments, rather than on interview questions.
For more information – Useful links on the OHRC site:
- The Canadian Human Rights Commission – Find information about human rights for federally-regulated employers and other areas under federal jurisdiction.
- What You Can and Can’t Ask in an Interview – hireimmigrants.ca has useful resources about recruiting, retaining and promoting skilled immigrants in your business.
Your Legal Rights – Valuable human rights and legal information.
You can view the site’s human rights resources by sub-topic, including employment.
The site has useful, curated, clear language information created by authoritative legal organizations across Ontario.