Unlawful Discrimination & Human Rights Violations
What is Workplace Discrimination?
Human rights discrimination in the workplace can take many forms: an ageing employee is forced into retirement; an employee injured at work is fired the next day; a woman is paid less than her male coworker, is subjected to sexist comments or sexual advances, or is terminated when she returns from pregnancy / maternity leave.
The workplace is supposed to be free from human rights discrimination for all employees in Canada, but that is unfortunately often not the case. When employees experience human rights discrimination in the workplace, they often feel isolated, and they don’t know where to turn.
The good news is that employees who are experiencing human rights and/or workplace discrimination such as ageism, sexism, racism or related to a medical issue or disability, have a way to fight back.
Human rights discrimination is illegal in Ontario under the Ontario Human Rights Code on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion), sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status and disability (i.e., medical condition or perceived medical condition).
Analogous provisions exist in all provinces and for federally regulated employees. Non-Human Rights Code discrimination often also creates legal recourse of various sorts.
How do I know if I am being discriminated against?
You deserve equal respect and consideration. The Human Rights Code guarantees “equal treatment with respect to employment” for all employees and workers. Most people think about discrimination in the context of pay equity or job opportunities, but the Human Rights Code applies to every aspect of the working environment.
Human rights discrimination in job applications, recruitment, training, transfers, promotions, apprenticeship terms, dismissal / termination, layoffs, rate of pay, overtime, hours of work, holidays, benefits, shift work, discipline and performance evaluations are all prohibited under the Human Rights Code.
What if my co-workers are discriminating against me?
Human rights discrimination and discriminatory harassment (including sexual harassment) in the workplace is illegal. These laws apply not only to your employer, but to anyone in the workplace. It might involve only your immediate supervisor, or it could be something happening in the entire company because your employer doesn’t care, doesn’t know, or doesn’t understand its obligations under the Human Rights Code.
To some extent, your employer has an obligation to protect you from human rights and workplace discrimination. If your employer is found culpable for failing to do so, you may be entitled to compensation.
What should I do if I am being discriminated against in the workplace?
It can be tempting to ignore workplace discrimination. You might be fearful that claiming discrimination will hurt your job opportunities. You might worry that you won’t be believed, and you might even question yourself whether it really is discrimination. You might just want to quit and move on with your life.
However, you are entitled to be made whole for this discrimination. The first step is to learn your rights and enforce them – you are your own first line of defence.
What can the employment lawyers at Levitt LLP do for me?
The employment lawyers at Levitt LLP are employment law and labour law experts in Toronto, the GTA and across Canada. We have made successful human rights complaints against some of Canada’s largest employers in hundreds of unique cases.
We understand what you are going through. Our employment lawyers can advise you of your rights under the Human Rights Code and otherwise. Our employment lawyers can determine if your job and career are being limited because of workplace discrimination, and will fight to make you whole for the losses you incurred as a result.
Each situation is unique, so schedule a consultation today with one of our employment lawyers in Toronto, the GTA or across Canada to learn about your options.
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