Ontario’s Harassment and Discrimination Laws

Ontario’s Harassment and Discrimination Laws

A news story recently circulated from Kansas in the United States, where a Chipotle restaurant manager was sued for harassment and discrimination after he forcibly removed an employee’s hijab, a Muslim head scarf.  This shocking workplace incident has led many to inquire as to what sort of protections they have from workplace harassment and discrimination in Ontario.

How Does Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act Protect Employees?

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act protects employees from harassment and further confirms that employers have a duty to investigate a complaint of workplace harassment.  Additionally, under the Act, employers are not allowed to retaliate against an employee for raising a legitimate harassment concern so that employees feel safe in raising such concerns. Under the Act, employers need to ensure that an appropriate investigation is completed given the circumstances and they need to inform the complainant and alleged harasser in writing of the result of the investigation as well as any corrective action taken.

Ontario’s Human Rights Code lays out a number of protected grounds that are deemed human rights that one cannot be treated differently on the basis of.  These protected grounds include things such as race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, medical disability, family status and more. Employers have a duty to accommodate employees’ human rights concerns under the Code up to the point of undue hardship, meaning up to the point of accommodations becoming unfairly burdensome to the employer.

How Can Employees and Employers Seek Legal Advice on these Matters?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Human Rights Code offer protection for employees in Ontario against workplace harassment and discrimination respectively.

If you are an employee looking to better understand your rights, or an employer looking to better understand your obligations, we encourage you to seek legal advice to explore these matters.  We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances.  If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

Author – Nasyr Asmi