Discrimination can occur in a variety of settings including the workplace. The Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”) protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation during their in employment.
Protection in employment includes freedom from harassment and discrimination. It also includes the right to be free from a poisoned work environment. Examples of harassment or discrimination include:
- comments, jokes or innuendos that make an employee feel unwelcome;
- choosing one interview candidate over another because of known or perceived sexual orientation;
- heterosexism where employers assume employees identify as heterosexual;
An employer or prospective employer should not ask you questions about your sexual orientation. You should not be disciplined or terminated because of your sexual orientation.
For example, in this leading case the applicant realized that she identified as a lesbian while working at a Christian religious organization. The organization had a morality statement prohibiting employees from engaging in “homosexual relationships”. Ultimately, the employee was terminated. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“Tribunal”) determined that the employee had been discriminated against and awarded $23,000 for the discrimination: for the mental anguish that she experienced in a poisoned work environment. The Tribunal also awarded lost wages and benefits for a period of nearly two years following the employee’s termination.
For additional information about human rights protection in Ontario, see here.
If you believe that you have experienced discrimination because of your sexual orientation, you should seek legal advice. Please contact us at [email protected] or 1-888-640-1728 (toll free) or 647-204-8107 (within the GTA).
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