What is discrimination at work? What can I do if I am being discriminated against at work?

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a law about discrimination. It says that an employer cannot discriminate against you for certain reasons.

In Ontario, employers cannot treat you unfairly or discriminate against you because of your:

  • Race
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Ethnic origin
  • Citizenship
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender expression, gender identity
  • Age
  • Family status or marital status
  • Disability

These are known as protected grounds. The Ontario Human Rights Code has a full list of protected grounds.

There are some exceptions to these rules. For example, an airline can hire only people with good eyesight as pilots. This is acceptable. A pilot has to have good eyesight to do their job safely.

Religious Accommodation

Employers have a responsibility to accommodate religious needs in the workplace. Religious needs can relate to dress, time for prayer and flexible hours or time off for special days.

What can I do if I am being discriminated against at work?

Write down what happened and when it happened. This way, you will have a good record of the information when you need it. Write it down soon after the event, while everything is easier to remember. If discrimination or hate is happening to you over a long period of time, writing it down will help you show that there has been a pattern of discrimination.

If you are experiencing discrimination under the Human Rights Code, you can file a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). You can get help with your claim from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

If you work in a unionized workplace, you should speak to your union representative before filing a human rights complaint. If you feel that you are being discriminated against by your union, you can file a complaint with the HRTO against your union and your employer.

What if I am experiencing harassment but it's not related to my human rights?

If you are experiencing harassment but it isn't related to your human rights, you are still protected by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The OHSA has workplace violence and harassement regulations.

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Last updated: September 16, 2019 4001116