What Types of Discriminatory Conduct Does the Human Rights Code Forbid?

The Human Rights Code Forbids Discrimination Based on Sexuality, Family Status, Marital Status, Race, Age, Place of Origin, Among Other Issues, Within Employment, Contractual Relations, Access to Services, and Much More.

Understanding Human Rights Code Protections Applicable to Race, Religion, Gender, Age, Sexuality, and more.

Man holding out hand in a welcoming gesture. In Ontario, all people are entitled to protection against various forms of mistreatment as per the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, which prescribes that five (5) key areas of concern are protected from discrimination.  The five (5) key protected areas include services, accommodations, employment, contractual relationships, and vocational associations.

The complaint process for discrimination contrary to the Human Rights Code begins with an Application that is submitted to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario which reviews the allegations contained within the submitted complaint; and where the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario deems that a genuine issue requiring adjudication exists, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario will hold hearings whereat facts are presented by witnesses, arguments are submitted by advocates, and an adjudicator will decide whether to grant a remedy such as an Order for the payment of monetary compensation or other forms of making an amends.

In addition to protection from discriminatory treatment, the Human Rights Code contains provisions to protect complainants from being subjected to reprisals as a retaliation for bringing discriminatory concerns to the attention of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  This protection against reprisals helps to ensure that those complaints who bring a matter to attention are without hesitation that may otherwise occur due to a fear of retaliation by intimidation, further discrimination, or other illicit response.

Generally, with some exceptions, in regards to the five (5) key areas, the Human Rights Code states:


Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.

Human Rights Issues Include:
Protection Against Racism

Ensures proper treatment for people of all colour.

Opportunity Regardless of Age

Includes assurances for the young and old and those in-between.

Acceptance Regardless of Origin

Provides equal welcome to persons from near or far.

Embracing of Various Sexualities

Assures freedom of individual sexuality including choice of gender.

Accessibility for Disabled Persons

Reduces struggle for those with limitations.

Indifference to Personal Status

Ensures security whether married, single, with children or without.

Furthermore, the characteristics protected from discrimination are broadly defined so as to help ensure a just determination and application of the intended protections.  The various protected characteristics are defined within section 10 as follows:


age” means an age that is 18 years or more; (“âge”)

disability” means,

(a) any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

(b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

(c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,

(d) a mental disorder, or

(e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap”)

equal” means subject to all requirements, qualifications and considerations that are not a prohibited ground of discrimination; (“égal”)

family status” means the status of being in a parent and child relationship; (“état familial”)

group insurance” means insurance whereby the lives or well-being or the lives and well-being of a number of persons are insured severally under a single contract between an insurer and an association or an employer or other person; (“assurance-groupe”)

harassment” means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; (“harcèlement”)

marital status” means the status of being married, single, widowed, divorced or separated and includes the status of living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage; (“état matrimonial”)

record of offences” means a conviction for,

(a) an offence in respect of which a pardon has been granted under the Criminal Record Act (Canada) and has not been revoked, or

(b) an offence in respect of any provincial enactment; (“casier judiciaire”)

services” does not include a levy, fee, tax or periodic payment imposed by law; (“services”)

spouse” means the person to whom a person is married or with whom the person is living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage.

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