gender-specific dress codes
With the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s recent position on gender-specific dress codes, and with the increase of attention in the news regarding bars and restaurants requiring women to wear high heels, low-cut tops and short skirts, I thought it would be beneficial for our readers to get Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane’s take on the issue of gender specific and sexualized dress codes in the workplace, and what employers should be doing to ensure that their dress codes are in compliance with Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
Can you think of a store, restaurant, or bar that appears to require women to wear low-cut tops, short skirts, tight dresses, or high heels when they go to work? Well, it might be wise for those employers to take another look at their dress code policy in light of the Ontario Human Rights Commission position on gender-specific dress code announced on International Women’s Day 2016 and the passing into law of occupational health and safety provisions protecting against workplace sexual harassment and violence. Under Bill 132, the OHSA’s definition of “workplace harassment” will be expanded to include “workplace sexual harassment.”