What is the Ontario Human Rights Code?

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law applicable to all areas of employment. It establishes equal rights and opportunities, freedom from discrimination, and advances Ontario’s human rights system, which is composed of three parts:

  1. The Human Rights Tribunal
  2. The Human Rights Legal Support Center
  3. The Ontario Human Rights Commission

As an employer, it is your legal responsibility to understand the rules and regulations of the Human Rights Code and how it relates to your employees and business.

Freedom from Discrimination

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

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

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Employers are strongly advised to have a workplace discrimination policy prohibiting discrimination in all forms and providing examples of the prohibited behaviour. The policy should also set out a procedure which employees can follow if they feel they have been subjected to harassment or bullying, and it must clearly identify who is responsible for investigating complaints. This policy should exist in an employee handbook that is available to staff at all times.

What happens when there is an employee complaint?

Employee complaints about the infringement of their human rights at work are most commonly filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre can provide employees with legal advice or help them file an application with the Tribunal.

Are you dealing with a Human Rights issue?

Employer Line offers free employer and HR advice on the Ontario Human Rights Code. Don’t wait until you’re in an employment dispute; call our complimentary employer helpline to ensure your employee handbook is up to date: 1-888-219-876