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Types of discrimination

Everyone in Ontario is entitled to a workplace free of discrimination. Discrimination in the work place can take various forms:

  1. Direct discrimination – differential treatment because of your membership in a protected group
  2. Adverse effect discrimination – being treated the same as everyone else has a negative and differential impact on you because of your membership in a protected group
  3. Systemic discrimination – when there are a rules, practices, and assumptions that work together to create a discriminatory effect on you.

The legal burden is on the person alleging discrimination to show that it has taken place based on a prohibited ground. The Human Rights Code of Ontario contains a list of prohibited grounds at Section 5(1):

  1. race
  2. ancestry
  3. place of origin
  4. colour
  5. ethnic origin
  6. citizenship
  7. creed
  8. sex
  9. sexual orientation
  10. gender identity
  11. gender expression
  12. age
  13. record of offences
  14. marital status
  15. family status
  16. disability

The purpose of the Human Rights Code is to ensure all employees are treated equally. Alleging discrimination against an employer is a serious legal matter. It can cause irreparable harm to the employer. Reputation and public perception are at stake so it is important to ensure that discrimination is not alleged due to anger or a misunderstanding. You must show a prima facie case of discrimination if the alleged facts are believed to be true.

Both employees and independent contractors are entitled to human rights protection under the Human Rights Code.

Thing to consider if you believe you are a victim of discrimination

If feel that you are a victim of discrimination you must chose whether to bring a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, or to commence a civil action in Superior Court. Starting a lawsuit in Court requires that there is another cause of action, for example a wrongful dismissal. The remedies available in a human rights tribunal proceeding are also different and include:

  1. being restored to the position you were in had your rights not been violated
  2. compensation for loss of earnings or job opportunity
  3. damages for mental anguish
  4. your employer may be required to reinstate you
  5. your employer may be required to implement or change its workplace policies

Every employee is Ontario is entitled to a workplace free of harassment by the employer, the agents of the employer, or other employees according to Section 5(2) of the Human Rights Code of Ontario. The same applies to sexual harassment according to Section 7 as the employee cannot be harassed due to sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Harassment complaints must be taken seriously by your employer and cannot be ignored. If your feel you are a victim of discrimination or harassment you need to know your rights.

The information on this website is for informative purposes only. It is not legal advice. A lawyer can only be retained after a consultation. If you need a wrongful dismissal lawyer or if you have any other employment law issues, call me at: 416 323 3614