In order to access the protections and rights of the Employment Standards Act, an individual typically needs to be considered an “employee” as opposed to an “independent contractor”.
HUMAN RIGHTS CODE
The Course of Your Employment
Ontario’s human rights legislation is called the Ontario Human Rights Code and it protects individuals in five social areas, including employment. The Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of various prohibited grounds. For employment, these are; age, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, disability, family status, marital status, gender identity or gender expression, record of offences, sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding) and sexual orientation. Federally regulated employees, such as those working for airlines, banks or telephone companies, must file a claim with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. By contrast, provincially regulated employees may file applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Human rights cases relating to the workplace most often fall into two broad categories; sexual harassment and discrimination. Please see the article titled “Sexual Harassment” for more information on that topic. The right to “equal treatment with respect to employment” covers each aspect of the workplace environment and the employment relationship. This includes job applications, recruitment, training, transfers, promotions, dismissal and layoffs. As well, it covers rate of pay, overtime, hours of work, holidays, benefits, discipline and performance evaluations.
Types of Discrimination
There are three types of discrimination that employers and employees may come across. These are direct, adverse effect and systemic. Direct discrimination occurs when a person is disadvantaged on the basis of an explicit reference to group affiliation. For example, if a “help wanted” sign said that only males need apply. Adverse effect discrimination occurs when a seemingly neutral rule or policy has a discriminatory effect on members of a certain group. For example, minimum height requirements for airline pilots constituted adverse effect discrimination against women. Lastly, systemic discrimination concerns overlapping and interconnected rules, practices and assumptions that combine to produce a discriminatory effect. If you have been discriminated against on a prohibited ground during the course of your employment, contact Stacey Ball – employment lawyer in Toronto to understand your options in detail. You may file an application at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, keeping in mind there is a one year time limit for filing an application from the last discriminatory event. Ontario’s common law may also indirectly provide additional remedies for discrimination, human rights abuses and sexual harassment.
You may file a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, assault, or the tort of intentional infliction of nervous shock or suffering, and explain how discrimination or harassment played in role in the conduct in question. Note that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario cannot consider an application if there is already a human rights claim before the court or the claim is the subject of a court decision. The determination of whether or not the legal elements for a human rights, discrimination or sexual harassment case are present depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Canadian Employment Law
Mr. Ball is author of the authoritative and definitive text Canadian Employment Law - published by Canada Law Book (a division of Thomson Reuters). The text is used and cited by lawyers, law schools and judges across Canada.
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