What is the Ontario Human Rights Code?

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law that establishes equal rights and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. Ontario’s human rights system is structured by three pillars:

  1. the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
  2. the Human Rights Legal Support Centre
  3. the Ontario Human Rights Commission

Each agency of government is in place to prevent discrimination and to promote and advance human rights in Ontario. The Code is applicable to all areas of employment.

As an employer, it is your legal responsibility to understand the rules and regulations under the Human Rights Code as each law relates to your employees and your business.

Freedom From Discrimination

Under the Human Rights Code, every person has the right to be free from discrimination on the grounds of:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Colour
  • Race
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic Origin
  • Place of Origin
  • Creed
  • Disability
  • Family Status
  • Gender Identity
  • Gender Expression
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Record of Offences

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Employers are strongly advised to have a workplace discrimination policy. This should outline the different types of employment discrimination, followed by a clear written statement that any shape or form is unacceptable. The policy should also set out a procedure for employees to follow if they feel they have been subjected to harassment or bullying, clearly identifying who is responsible for investigating any complaints. This policy should exist in an employee handbook that is available to your staff at all times.

Is your employee handbook up-to-date with the Ontario Human Rights Code? Employer Line has the resources to help you with that, even if that just means an extra set of eyes for an in-depth review.

What happens when there is an employee complaint?

Complaints by employees about infringement of Human Rights at work are most commonly filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Commission has a legal team who advise employees who believe they have been a victim of discrimination or harassment. The Human Rights Tribunal, which is part of the Human Rights Commission, adjudicates on any cases brought by employees.

Are you dealing with an employee issue concerning the Ontario Human Rights Code?

Employer Line offers free employer and HR advice through Peninsula to ease the stress when it comes to taking action with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Call our complimentary employer helpline – we’re here to listen and provide a solution to your employee issue. Don’t wait until you’re deep into an employment dispute. Call us at 1(833)247-3650.