While unequal power relationships exist in many sectors of society, they tend to appear the most in the workplace, where hierarchies are common. Both women and men may experience sexual harassment in employment, but women tend to be more vulnerable to harassment by men, because relative to men, more women hold lower-paying, lower-authority and lower-status jobs. At the same time, even women in positions of authority are not free from sexual harassment or inappropriate gender-related behaviour.
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:
- Policy on removing the "Canadian experience" barrier
- Human rights at work 2008 - 3rd edition
- Guidelines on developing human rights policies and procedures
- Policy on employment-related medical information
- Policy on drug and alcohol testing
- Policy on requiring a drivers license as a condition of employment
- Human rights maturity model (Canadian Human Rights Commission)
The ultimate responsibility for maintaining an environment free from sexual harassment rests with employers, housing providers, educators and other responsible parties covered by the Code. From a human rights perspective, it is not acceptable to choose to stay unaware of sexual harassment, whether or not a human rights claim has been made.
Monday, October 28, 2013 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission, City of Ottawa, Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership and Hire Immigrants Ottawa invite you to learn about the OHRC’s new Policy on removing the “Canadian experience” barrier.
Every person has the right to equal treatment in employment without discrimination based on Code grounds. In Ontario, about three-quarters of all human rights claims come from the workplace.
Employment is used in a very general way in the Code. Employees, independent contractors and volunteers are covered.
Sexual harassment in housing and workplaces
“Harassment” in this section means comments or actions based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression that are unwelcome to you or should be known to be unwelcome. They may include humiliating or annoying conduct. Harassment requires a “course of conduct,” which means that a pattern of behaviour or more than one incident is usually required for a claim to be made to the Tribunal. However, a single significant incident may be offensive enough to be considered sexual harassment.
Advertisements for jobs should not refer, directly or indirectly, to prohibited grounds of discrimination. For example, an ad that says “We prefer hiring younger people” is not allowed.
Organizations are generally not allowed to hire in a discriminatory way. However, there are some exceptions. The most common ones are:
Employment may not be denied or made conditional upon enrolment in a benefit or similar plan, which makes a distinction based on a Code ground. The general rule of non-discrimination in employment applies to pension plans, benefit plans and terms of group insurance except where reasonable and genuine distinctions or exclusions are based on age, marital status, family status or sex.
December 2013 - Under the Code, all organizations are prohibited from treating people unfairly because of Code grounds, must remove barriers that cause discrimination, and must stop it when it occurs. Organizations can also choose to develop “special programs” to help disadvantaged groups improve their situation. The Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms both recognize the importance of addressing historical disadvantage by protecting special programs to help marginalized groups. The Supreme Court of Canada has also recognized the need to protect “programs” established by legislation that are designed to address the conditions of a disadvantaged group.
February 2014 - Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) are becoming an industry standard for resource development projects that are located on or impact Aboriginal Peoples’ traditional lands and rights. The agreements often contain employment and contracting provisions that give priority for training, hiring and contracting to Aboriginal Peoples.When Aboriginal governments choose to enter into IBAs, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) supports developing and implementing preferential employment and contracting provisions in IBAs, to address historical disadvantage and promote substantive equality for Aboriginal Peoples in Ontario.