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dress codes

Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: Ontario’s current and upcoming minimum wage; whether the terms of an employee’s employment contract could be implied because of industry practice; and Ontario Human Rights Commission’s new report, Not on the menu: OHRC inquiry report on sexualized and gender-based dress codes in restaurants.

 

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Five employment issues facing Ontario retailers

I am fortunate in my practice to work with clients in different industries, ranging from healthcare and social services to traditional manufacturing. Although employment laws generally apply to all industries in much the same way, there are usually certain issues that some industries face more than others. This is true of many clients I assist in the retail industry.

 

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Employers should think carefully before imposing a dress code

While employers may believe that they have a broad right to regulate what employees wear in the workplace, this is not the case. The question of what requirements an employer can impose on an employee’s appearance can actually be quite complex because the imposition of dress codes create a tension between an employee’s right to look the way they want and the employer’s business interest in regulating appearances. Unless an employer can provide an objective explanation of why the dress code is necessary, arbitrators typically find in favour of employees’ interests in self-expression.

 

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Employer sexually harassed adolescent employee

The Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication just found that a teenaged employee was sexually harassed by her employer with persistent unwelcome sexual conduct. This finding was underscored by the power imbalance, age difference and generational communication issues present. That said, the harassment was considered to be at the most mild end of the spectrum of sexual harassment.

 

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What are an employer’s human rights obligations with respect to gender identity?

Across Canada, there is a trend in human rights law to increase protections for transgendered individuals. Last year, Ontario and Manitoba joined the Northwest Territories in expressly including “gender identity” as a prohibited ground of discrimination under their human rights legislation. Ontario also included “gender expression” as a prohibited ground. In addition, Nova Scotia in 2012 added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to its Human Rights Act to protect transgendered persons from discrimination.

 

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