Recently, it was reported that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s child who was assigned female gender at birth has been wearing traditionally male attire and has requested to be called John (see here).
While John may face societal pressures and obstacles, in Ontario at least, he will be protected by law in his employment, accommodation, contracts and his access to services and facilities. These protections are found in the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”).
In 2012, the Code was amended to include ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ as protected grounds. This was a big step forward for the protection of transgender persons’ rights in Ontario.
Since that time, there have been several decisions from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on gender expression and identity.
In the Salsman decision, a manger of a local market made discriminatory comments towards three transgendered women referring to the women as “cross dressing” and being “guys dressed up as girls.” Mr. Desa also made comments on a radio program that it was a “family market” and referred to the applicants as “these people.” The women and their co-worker were awarded between $5,000 and $20,000 as general damage for the breach of the Human Rights Code and injury to dignity and self-worth. Similarly, in Vanderputten a transgendered woman faced discrimination from her manager and employer during her transition and was harassed verbally and physically. The employer required that Ms. Vanderputten be treated as male in all respects until she completed gender re-assignment surgery. The Human Rights Tribunal awarded her $22,000 as general damages against her employer and the individual who had harassed her.
These decisions are a positive step forward in the protection of Trans’ rights in Ontario. We anticipate that as the Tribunal continues to release decisions interpreting the new human rights provisions, more Trans individuals will bring forward claims of discrimination and harassment under the Code.
For more information about human rights, see here.
If have experienced discrimination at work because of gender expression or identity or are concerned that your human rights are being violated, please contact us at [email protected] or 1-888-640-1728 (toll free) or 647-204-8107 (within the GTA).
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