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Things to know

  • Human rights legislation prohibits discrimination and harassment based on prohibited grounds.
  • Prohibited grounds of discrimination vary province to province, but typically include age, disability, sex, creed, colour, place of origin, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, ancestry, marital status, family status, and citizenship.
  • Some provinces also include protections based on gender identity or gender expression.
  • Ontario has in place legislation to ensure accessibility of disabled individuals.
  • Employers must ensure a workplace free of discrimination and harassment and ensure accessibility for the disabled.  In the event that an employee is disabled or has religious restrictions, an employer must also accommodate such issues to the point of undue hardship.
  • Non-compliance can lead to damage awards, bad publicity and any other remedy that the applicable human rights tribunal believes is necessary to correct the non-compliance.

Things to do

  • Ensure that, as an employer, you have processes and protocols in place to address human rights and accommodation obligations, including an anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy with a complaint and investigation procedure, a program to train employees in their rights and obligations under applicable human rights law, and a disciplined process to address accommodation issues.
  • In Ontario, employers must also ensure that you are in compliance with accessibility legislation, including by having accessibility policies, training and reports as required by statute.
  • If an employee requests accommodation for a disability or other human rights ground, address such issues on a case-by-case basis.
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