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The Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination, harassment and reprisal with respect to employment, trade, self-governing profession, services, good, contracts and facilities.
Under the Code, you have responsibility to ensure the work environment is healthy and inclusive, and to prevent and address discrimination and harassment. You also have a legal duty to accommodate your employees up to undue hardship.
The Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination are:
What are my employee’s rights to equal treatment in the workplace?
TheOntario Human Rightsprotects persons in all aspects of employment, including:
It also covers: rate of pay, codes of conduct, overtime, hours of work, holidays, benefits, shift work, performance evaluations and discipline.
What can I do to meet my legal obligations?
Per your obligations under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, you should have a workplace violence and harassment policy. In addition, you should have a program which outlines your investigative process.
Having a “No Discrimination Policy & Program”
Having a “no discrimination policy and program” is a great way to set the expectations of the workplace and establish an internal complaint process for employees who believe they have been subjected to discrimination.
Can I terminate an employee that is sick or disabled?
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, employees who are sick have rights and you are required to accommodate an employee unless this would result in undue hardship. When faced with an employee who is requesting accommodation, choosing to simply layoff or terminate the employee is not an option. This is a big mistake that can result in very expensive litigation.
Termination should be based on performance and not influenced by illness, injury or accident because of Human Rights. If you are ever faced with a termination that may include a Human Rights component, we strongly advise to contact a lawyer at your earliest convenience.
Disability Management Program
Consider establishing a disability management program. This program focus on absences from work as a result of an illness, injury or disability and on preventing the risks that cause these absences. It establishes a procedure for you to follow in each case so you have satisfied the procedural duty to accommodate. It contains three (3) components; prevention, support for recovery and accommodation.
Are there any government programs that can help my employee?
Are there any legal support for my business?:
Law Society of Canada