In 2017, 66% of all human rights claims were employment-related. Employers have the duty to be compliant with the Ontario Human Rights Code. Failure to comply with the OHRC can lead to the filing of complaints with the Human Rights Tribunal – leading to lengthy and costly repercussions for the employer. The Human Rights Tribunal deals with all complaints of discrimination under the Human Rights Code, and decides if someone’s rights have been violated. People in Ontario are protected under the OHRC in employment, accommodation, goods, services and facilities and membership in vocational associations. Employer obligations include:
Duty to accommodate
Employers have an obligation to adjust rules, policies or practices to enable employees to participate fully to the point of undue hardship – The duty to accommodate means that sometimes it is necessary to treat someone differently in order to prevent or reduce discrimination. For example, asking all job applicants to pass a written test may not be fair to a person with a visual disability. In such cases, the duty to accommodate may require that alternative arrangements be made to ensure that a person or group can fully participate. Undue hardship can be claimed with sufficient evidence that accommodation would cost too much, or create health or safety risks.
Employers must ensure employees in female job classes (jobs done mostly by women) are paid as much as workers in male job classes (jobs done mostly by men) when they are found to be comparable in value to the organization based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. Employers are required to provide information about pay equity in the workplace.
For more information on employer obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, click here.