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Human Rights

For Employers

Employment equity and human rights legislation forbids employers from adopting – or inadvertently using –  hiring practices, unlawful dismissals/terminations and workplace policies that discriminate against some people. It is crucial for employers to properly develop and implement employment equity and human rights policies to prevent employees from experiencing discrimination in the course of their employment. Human rights legislation also imposes several duties on employers. For example, employer must accommodate employees with disabilities and other needs.

Canadian employers have a responsibility to participate in proactive hiring strategies to increase the representation of four designated groups of people:

  • Women
  • People with disabilities
  • Aboriginal people
  • Visible minorities

The various Human Rights Codes in Canada prohibit actions that discriminate against people based on a protected ground in a protected social area.

Common protected grounds are:

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

Protected social areas are:

  • Accommodation (housing)
  • Contracts
  • Employment
  • Goods, services and facilities
  • Membership in unions, trade or professional associations.

Employment is a protected social area. This means that under the umbrella of employment, people enjoy the right to equal treatment in any and all aspects of the workplace environment and employment relationship.

This includes:

  • Applying for positions
  • Recruitment
  • Training
  • Volunteering
  • Interning
  • Promotions
  • Dismissals/Terminations
  • Layoffs
  • Wages
  • Hours worked
  • Holidays
  • Benefits
  • Discipline and performance evaluations etc.

It also includes activities or events that happen outside of normal business hours or off business premises, but are linked to the workplace and employment.

Why choose an employment lawyer at Levitt LLP?

Our knowledgeable employment lawyers can help you draft protocols and policies to help ensure that your organization doesn’t run afoul of equity and human rights rules, nut in the event that an employee claims they are a victim of unlawful/human rights discrimination (either at the hiring stage, during his or her employment, or in relation to a dismissal/termination), our employment lawyers can help you defend both your reputation and your legal position.

From negotiating with the employee, to mediating a resolution, to defending against a complaint before a tribunal or asking a court to intervene, we are your advocates. Our employment lawyers have successfully defended claims of discrimination before various Human Rights Tribunals and Courts in Toronto, the GTA and across the country. Each situation is unique, so talk with one of our employment lawyers in Toronto, the GTA or across Canada to learn about how we can help you reduce the HR risks in your organization.

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