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Employment

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: 

  1. Ontario Public Service (OPS) Gender Identity Policy: OHRC letter to Minister MacCharles

    June 15, 2017 - Dear Minister MacCharles, I trust this finds you well. I am writing to commend you on your Ministry’s leadership in development of the new OPS Gender Identity Policy - Gender Identity and Sex Information on Public-Facing Government Products and Forms, and to call on you to build on this important work by removing other human rights barriers that face people with diverse gender identities and gender expressions across government.

  2. Strengthening Bill 3 (“Pay Transparency Act”) to protect human rights

    April 18, 2018 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on Bill 3, An Act respecting transparency of pay in employment (the Bill). The OHRC is encouraged by the Bill’s potential to narrow the persistent gender pay gap and other employment discrimination. To be most effective, the draft legislation requires amendments as outlined below.

  3. Policy on drug and alcohol testing 2016

    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.

  4. Policy on height and weight requirements

    June 1996 - Standards for height and weight are sometimes used to screen or evaluate job applicants. In the OHRC's experience, this tends to occur in recruitment for occupations that traditionally have been male dominated. These standards or selection criteria are based on the average physical stature of men in the majority population group. Women and members of racialized groups are, on the average, physically smaller than members of the majority population group. Consequently, these groups tend to be disadvantaged by height and weight criteria. The policy of the OHRC with regard to such recruitment practices is set out below. This policy applies to all height and weight criteria used in the context of employment.
  5. Policy on requiring a driver's licence as a condition of employment

    September 2000 - A driver's licence contains personal information about an individual which could lead to the classification of a job applicant according to a prohibited ground of discrimination, contrary to subsection 23(2) of the Code. Therefore, unless a driver's licence is required to enable a person to perform the essential duties of a job, it should not be requested in an application form or during an employment interview.
  6. Discussion paper: Human rights issues in insurance

    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.
  7. Policy on drug and alcohol testing

    September 2000 - Drug and alcohol testing are of particular concern in the workplace, notably for those Ontario employers that have safety sensitive operations, and/or that are subject to U.S. regulatory requirements (e.g. the trucking industry) or to the policies of U.S. affiliates with “zero tolerance” for the consumption of drugs or alcohol. For this reason, this Policy focuses on the workplace. However, it applies to other social areas as well.

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