What is the Human Rights Code?

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives everyone the right to be treated equally and fairly without discrimination and harassment. The protected grounds covered by the Ontario Human Rights Code are:

  • Age
  • Ancestry, colour, race
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • Place of origin
  • Creed
  • Disability
  • Family status
  • Marital status (including single status)
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Record of offences
  • Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • Sexual orientation

All employers are required to comply with the Code.

The Ontario Human Rights System

The Ontario human rights system is comprised of three separate components:

  • Human Rights Commission
  • Human Rights Legal Support Centre
  • Human Rights Tribunal

The Human Rights Commission works to promote, protect, and advance human rights through research, education, and policy development. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre provides advice and legal support to people experiencing discrimination. The Human Rights Tribunal hears cases and decides is someone’s human rights have been violated.

What are my obligations as an employer?

All employers are required to abide by the Code. It is important to understand your responsibilities as an employer both when hiring and managing your workforce. Your obligations as an employer also extend to the actions of your employees towards other workers.

All employers should have in place a written policy on human rights or equal opportunity in the workplace. It’s also a good idea to have a process in place detailing what actions you take to reduce discrimination and the steps that will be followed if someone makes a complaint that their human rights have been violated.

It’s also important that workplace rules such as dress code don’t unintentionally violate someone’s human rights.