Human Rights in the Workplace in Ontario

Human Rights in Ontario for Employees

Every employee has the right to a workplace where the environment respects their Ontario basic human rights. Although the Human Rights Code (the “Code“) protects the right of all employees to equal treatment in employment without discrimination, there are some situations that are most commonly faced. This article outlines some of the basic human rights violations and the responsibilities employers have to their employees.

What Are an Employees Human Rights in Ontario?

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects all individuals from discrimination and harassment. Section 5(1) of the Code explains: Every person has a right to equal treatment in employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.

This provision applies to “every person… with respect to employment”. This includes volunteers, independent contractors, and those in the hiring process who have their basic human rights protected by the Code.

Although there are many types of discrimination and harassment the Code protects against, specific situations are more common than others.

Ontario’s Basic Human Rights: Employment And The Code

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has a Guide of rights and responsibilities under the Code concerning employment, listing human rights everyone is entitled to. However, below are the Ontario basic Human Rights that are most commonly violated:


All disabled individuals have the right to be provided with devices or services that allow them to do their job. In cases an employee medically substantiates their disability, employers must accommodate it to the point of undue hardship. Discrimination against disability is the most common Ontario basic human right issue.


Individuals (18 years and older) cannot face discrimination against their age. Although most employees claiming age discrimination are more senior and feel they are getting pushed out of the workplace, there is no mandatory retirement age. Employers cannot force employees to retire without violating their Basic Human Rights in Ontario. 


Creed refers to an individual’s right to employment that respects their sincerely held beliefs and practices. Employers must be accommodating to an employee’s religious or creed-based needs. In fact, employers must give employees time off if they are requesting a workday off for a religious holiday. For example, employees experience discrimination against their human rights when employers deny time off to accommodate their creed; however, this bars any undue hardship.

Language and Accent

Another one of the Ontario basic human rights prohibits discrimination against an employee’s language or accent on many grounds, specifically: ethnic origin, place of origin, race, and ancestry. Fluency in English must be an essential function of the role for employers to mandate language in the job description. This prevents employers from screening out individuals based on specific race or background.

Ontario Basic Human Rights: Are You Experiencing Discrimination?

If you are an employee experiencing discrimination, follow the necessary steps below:

  1. Write down and gather as much evidence as possible
  2. Contact an employment lawyer to ensure the best outcome
  3. Appropriately fill out a Human Rights Application
  4. File the application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Contact Us

If you are an employer or employee needing assistance with Ontario’s basic human rights in the workplace, our team of experienced human rights lawyers at Achkar Law can help.

Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to assist.