Canadian protects and advances the concept of universal human rights. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) and in Ontario, the Ontario’s Human Rights Code governs human rights. Canadian Human Rights Commission, and various provincial statutes and administrative tribunals, are just some of the ways human rights are upheld in Canada.
Law Wise Employment Lawyers approach human rights violations with logical and creative solutions. Our lawyers are, professional, friendly, and determined. We have the know-how to navigate through the psychology of any given human rights violation.
What is Discrimination?
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.
Example of adverse effect discrimination include:
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.
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.
Employment As a Protected 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.
Workplace human rights violations throughout Canada are of significant concern and normally fall within the jurisdiction of administrative human rights tribunals such as the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario or, at the federal level, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. It is also the case now that the Ontario courts have jurisdiction to enforce human rights remedies, provided certain legal requirements are met.
Workplace human rights violations and discriminatory harassment apply not only to the employer but to anyone in the workplace. Human rights discrimination regarding the rate of pay, overtime, working hours, holidays, benefits, layoffs, dismissal/termination, discipline, and performance are also all prohibited under the Human Rights Code, as employees have the right to equal treatment with respect to employment. Normally, an employer can justify differential treatment if such treatment is a bona fide occupational requirement and to act differently would result in “undue hardship.”
Discrimination Based on Family Status
Family status protects a range of families and familial relationships from discrimination while recognizing that families are becoming increasingly diverse. Family status discrimination can appear when a person is discriminated against based on:
- ∎ The identity of a particular family member
- ∎ Where parents are discriminated against for having children
- ∎ Spousal relationships
- ∎ Adult children who are discriminated against for caring for their aging parents
The inclusion of childcare obligations within the definition of family status has been adopted across Canada. Family status protects non-biological parent and child relationships, which may be formed through adoption, fostering and step-parenting, in addition to, lone parent families and those headed by LGBT persons. Courts and tribunals have set out various accommodation tests when it comes to childcare. Most recently, the Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal held that where childcare obligations are engaged, a person will have to be able to show that:
- ∎ They have a legal responsibility to care for a child under their supervision.
- ∎ The current workplace rules present a real disadvantage to the relationship between the parent and child and the responsibilities flowing from that relationship, and/or to the employee’s work.
Eldercare responsibilities have also been held to be a foundation for a family status claim of discrimination. If an employee is a primary caregiver for his or her parent, an applicant may be able to make a claim of family status discrimination.
The human rights legislation in Canada prohibits any pay equity violations. An employer has to provide equal pay for work that is substantially the same, requires the same skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions in the same establishment (even if the employees work at different locations under the same employer). An employer is not able to lower an employee’s rate of pay to create equal pay for equal work.
However, there are several exceptions that apply with respect to pay equity. These exceptions include seniority, merit, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of the product, and any other difference that is not based on the sex of the employee.
We understand the importance of developing non-discriminatory workplace policies to avoid issues such as complaints of harassment and discrimination.
Our employment 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.
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.
If you believe your human rights were violated in the workplace, or if you need legal counseling regarding family status discrimination, contact LAW WISE Employment Lawyers today to discuss your options. We will help assess whether there are grounds for a complaint and assist you throughout the process of making a complaint and enforcing your rights.
How Can Law Wise Help?
Everyone deserves equal respect and freedom from human rights discrimination. If you believe your human rights were violated in the workplace, contact Law Wise today and speak with one of our experienced lawyers to discuss your options. We will help asses whether there are grounds for a complaint, and assist you throughout the process of making a complaint and enforcing your rights.
Call us at +1 647 948 7819 today!