A starting point with defining discrimination is that unlawful discrimination happens where a person (or group of persons) is treated differently than they would be otherwise, based on one or more of the protected grounds identified in the human rights legislation.
The human rights legislation, combined with employment equity, has prohibited employers from adopting or unintentionally using discriminatory hiring, dismissal/termination practices, and workplace policies unless the employer can justify that the non-enforcement of the workplace rule or policy would result in “undue hardship” to the employer.
An example of adverse effect discrimination is scheduling against a person’s religious holiday, such as having mandatory rotating shifts on Friday and Saturday, even though some employees observe the Sabbath on Saturday. The human rights legislation also enforces many duties on employers, such as the duty to accommodate employees with disabilities.
What are the common protected grounds?
The common protected grounds under Canada’s Human Rights Act and Ontario’s Human Rights Code are: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, a record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.
Is Employment a protected social area?
Employment is a protected social area. It is therefore important for employers to implement non-discriminatory workplace policies to prevent unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This ensures that employees enjoy equal treatment in every aspect of the work environment and employment relationship.
Equal treatment is required in recruitment and applications, training, volunteering, interning, promotions, layoffs, dismissals/terminations, wages, hours worked, benefits, disability and the duty to accommodate, discipline and performance reviews, holidays, harassment investigations and policy development and reviews. It will also extend to including workplace events that occur outside of the regular business hours or off workplace premises.
How can Zeilikman Law help?
At Zeilikman Law, we understand the importance of developing non-discriminatory workplace policies to avoid issues such as complaints of harassment and discrimination.
Our lawyers are also able to defend your legal position and reputation, should problems arise such as an employee claiming they were a victim of human rights discrimination, regardless if it occurred during the hiring stage, employment, or in relation to a dismissal/termination.
At Zeilikman Law, we approach these issues with logical and creative solutions. Whether your company requires taking proactive steps in the implementation of workplace policies or defending against discrimination allegations in a legal proceeding, we can help.