- 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 Code protects people from discrimination and harassment because of past, present and perceived disabilities. “Disability” covers a broad range and degree of conditions, some visible and some not visible. A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time.
There are physical, mental and learning disabilities, mental disorders, hearing or vision disabilities, epilepsy, mental health disabilities and addictions, environmental sensitivities, and other conditions.
- Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities (2018)
- Policy on drug and alcohol testing (2016)
- Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability (2016)
- Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions (2014)
- Policy on environmental sensitivities (Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2014)
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.
June 2014 - Mental health issues and addictions are “disabilities” that are protected under the Code. For example, the Code protects people who have anxiety disorders, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or addictions to alcohol or drugs, just to name a few.
This submission outlines recent developments for the reporting period June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012 related to discrimination in employment and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (the OHRC) mandate. It includes OHRC activities, recent case law and comment regarding relevant ILO Committee observations and direct requests.
Year of decision: 2010
In a decision on June 16, 2010, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that the Toronto Police Services Board discriminated against a new recruit, Ariyeh Krieger, by not accommodating his mental disability to the point of undue hardship.
The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) provides for equal rights and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. The Code recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario and applies to the areas of employment, housing, goods, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations. In Ontario, the law protects you from discrimination and harassment in these areas because of mental health disabilities and addictions. This includes past, present and perceived conditions.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the independent mandatory review of the Accessibility for Ontarian’s with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The OHRC has a long history of engaging its broad mandate promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, including providing advice to government dating back to 1998 on the development of successive pieces accessibility legislation as well as more recent submissions on standards being developed under the AODA.