Every employee has a right to a workplace free of discrimination, as per the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act,and employers are required to provide that safe work environment
Ontario Human Rights Code
Despite this fact, many employees have experienced discrimination or harassment either in the job application process or in the workplace. This can have a devastating impact on an employee’s sense of self-worth, dignity and enjoyment in their work. As an employee, you have rights if you have been discriminated against or harassed on a ground that is protected by legislation. These grounds 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. If you have been discriminated against or harassed because of any of the above grounds, it is possible to file an application at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario or to include the claims as part of a civil lawsuit such as wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal. To prove discrimination at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, you must demonstrate that there is a connection between the negative treatment you experienced and one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. The negative treatmentonly needs to be partially caused by the prohibited ground in order to count as discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
It is possible that the negative treatment you experience is a result of the employer treating everyone the exact same, such as when you have a disability that requires accommodation. With respect to harassment based on a protected personal characteristic, harassment means “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.” With both harassment and discrimination, it is always important to keep detailed records of any offending behaviour. Keep records of the parties involved, any witnesses, what was said or done, dates, times, locations and any other relevant information. This will help strengthen your position if the case progresses to the Tribunal or to court. Please note that the above information does not constitute legal advice. It is general information about the law. If you require legal advice with an employment issue, please contact the experts at Ball Professional Corporation.
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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