Human Rights for Employees: Freedom from discrimination

Human Rights for Employees: Freedom from discrimination

Every employee has a set of rights that protect them from being mistreated in the workplace. One of the pillars of the Human Rights Code is guaranteeing every employee freedom from discrimination.

The Human Rights Code explicitly states, under s.5(1) as it pertains to employment, that “every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.”

Freedom from discrimination means that every employee has to be treated with ultimate respect and equality in the workplace under all of these areas, which are protected under the Human Rights Code if these rights are breached. This provision applies to anyone at work, in housing, in a union or professional group, or as a service provider.

What can discrimination look like?

Four types of discrimination that may occur:

Direct discrimination: when the discrimination made by action or words is obvious to any reasonable person. For example, a man is not hired because of his gender expression.

Indirect discrimination: when the discrimination is made, but through an alternate party to carry out the discriminatory action.

Constructive discrimination: when a rule or regulation is applied to each person in the workplace, however it is affecting someone differently than the rest of the workplace and may qualify as unequal treatment.

Systemic discrimination: the discrimination is not coming from one action itself, but it is built into the culture and regulations of a company or business. This type of discrimination is not explicit and may be hard to identify, but it is at the foundation of how a company operates and is a fundamental part of their “system”.

Employers “Duty to Accommodate”

The employer must accommodate to any needs the employee has in the workplace and take all reasonable measures that are necessary. The employer needs to make the workplace comfortable for employees, and in Ontario, they have a legal duty to accommodate. For example, the employer may be required to modify the work environment for someone who has a disability.

If you have any further questions about what discrimination in the workplace entails, or are being discriminated against in the workplace, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.