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.
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)
Work, paid or unpaid, is a fundamental part of realizing dignity, self-determination and a person’s full potential in society. In Ontario, people are protected from discrimination based on disability in employment. Employment includes paid employment, volunteer work, student internships, special job placements, and temporary, contract, seasonal or casual employment. Many consumer/survivors or people with addictions expressed their desire to work or volunteer, but could not without the accommodation they needed.
a) Federal legislation
i) Canadian Human Rights Act
The Canadian Human Rights Act (“CHRA”) applies to workplaces in federal organizations or industries that are regulated by the federal government. The Ontario Human Rights Code does not apply to such organizations. Both of these laws cannot apply at the same time. If one applies, the other does not.
The choice of incorporating statute does not determine whether a company is provincially or federally regulated. The CHRA covers workplaces such as:
Employers have a duty to accommodate an employee’s creed to the point of undue hardship, including by providing time off for religious holidays.
It is discrimination if you fire, demote or lay off an employee because she is or may become pregnant or she is away on maternity leave or disability leave related to pregnancy. Employers have a duty to accommodate a pregnant woman unless it would cause undue hardship. This may include changing her job duties temporarily or providing time off work.
The Human Rights Code says employers must not use application forms or ask questions of job applicants, which directly or indirectly ask them to give information about a “ground of discrimination”. For example, asking for information about a driver’s licence, when it may not be an essential duty of the job, may prevent or discourage someone from applying for a job - such as a person with a disability who is limited in their ability to drive. Also, asking a job applicant to
July 2007 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has reached a settlement with a number of complainants and General Motors of Canada Limited, in complaints alleging discrimination on the ground of citizenship and place of origin.
Monday July 15, 2013, 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Please join us as we launch our new policy addressing this pressing issue.
July 2013 - While the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognizes the significance of all of the barriers newcomers potentially face when trying to access the job market, this policy will focus on “Canadian experience” as an employment or accreditation requirement, and as a practice that raises human rights concerns. The OHRC’s position is that a strict requirement for “Canadian experience” is prima facie discrimination (discrimination on its face) and can only be used in very limited circumstances. The onus will be on employers and regulatory bodies to show that a requirement for prior work experience in Canada is a bona fide requirement, based on the legal test this policy sets out.