The prevalence of discrimination and harassment in the workplace cannot be overstated. The Ontario Human Rights Code provides that every person in Ontario has the right not to be discriminated against and to be treated equally in the workplace. Discrimination can occur in different situations including the hiring/interview process, performance management (such as performance improvement plans or PIPs), failure to accommodate, harassment, and termination of employment. The Code prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on various protected grounds including:
- Ancestry, colour, race
- Ethnic origin
- Place of origin
- Family status
- Marital status (including single status)
- Gender identity, gender expression
- Receipt of public assistance (in housing only)
- Record of offences (in employment only)
- Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
- Sexual orientation
Indivisible disability is a human rights issue in the workplace that is usually overlooked but can also constitute discrimination under the Code:
- Learning Disabilities including dyslexia, ADD and ADHD and more;
- Sleep Apnea and other disabilities that affect cognitive reasoning;
- Stress and Anxiety disorders; and
- Addiction including alcohol, drug, gambling and more.
The Code also protects individuals in areas outside of employment including housing, contracts, goods/services/facilities, and memberships in unions, trade, or professional associations.
Employees who are subjected to discrimination, and/or harassment, may have a legal action against their employer at the courts or the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The remedy for discrimination is to put the employee in a position as if the discrimination never occurred. For example, when there is a discriminatory termination, an employee may be entitled to money for pain and suffering, their job back/reinstatement, and all lost wages from the day they were dismissed to when they find other employment.
It is important to note that lost wages awarded for discrimination may be much more than the money that is usually awarded for severance. Therefore, it is important that employees who have been (or feel that they have been) discriminated against contact an employment lawyer. In addition to severance the employee may be entitled to damages for the violation of their human rights.
If you think you may have experienced one or more of the above listed grounds of workplace discrimination, harassment, or reprisal, contact Mackenzie Law today to help you fight for your human rights and seek redress for a breach of your rights. Mackenzie Law is committed to helping individuals fight discrimination cases while working towards a fair workplace.