Whatever the stage of your career planning and development, it is important to be aware of your rights under the law, especially if you believe you are not being treated fairly.
Below are various links to important legislation pieces and employment standards designed to protect all employees working in Canada. These resources are useful to consult if you feel your disability or any other status or identity, such as culture, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, has caused you to be discriminated against or treated unfairly.
Having knowledge of these legal protections can facilitate a discussion with relevant parties such as supervisors, human resources personnel, union reps, equity and diversity officers (if your organization or company has them), professional associations or regulatory bodies, or an ombudspersons. Many issues can be resolved quickly through dialogue and improved communications with the right parties. Sometimes when this does not resolve or improve things, escalation to legal resources is an option to consider.
Talking about your specific workplace issues with a Career Counsellor at the Career Centre can also be helpful.
Both Federal and Provincial levels of government register and hear discrimination complaints. You can file a Human Rights complaint at the Canadian Human Rights Commission or with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. See below for the actual codes.
The Canadian Human Rights Charter
The Ontario Human Rights Codes
Read the full version of the Human Rights Code that outlines in detail what exactly constitutes “discrimination” in Ontario and explains which protections under the law exist for individuals living and working in the province. A simplified version of the Ontario Human Rights Code is also available with a brief list of protected groups and sectors that must abide by the Code accordingly.
The Employment Equity Act
The purpose of this Federal Act is to ensure equal and fair access to employment opportunities and also upholds the duty to accommodate a person’s disabilities. Employment Equity Act
The Ontario Employment Standards Act
The Employment Standards Act is an Ontario piece of legislation that protects workers and regulates several key issues pertaining to working in the province including wages, vacation pay, hours of work, leaves of absences, benefits and workplace safety. Here are the major features of this Act.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act highlights the standards in which employers, businesses and service providers in the province are to follow when working with persons with disabilities. The Act is designed to remove barriers to participation in all aspects of society for persons with disabilities by the year 2025.
This series of short videos explain how the Ontario Human Rights Code and the AODA work together to support equity in Ontario.
Legal Support and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities
Understanding your legal rights helps you to start an assertive dialogue with employers when you believe you’ve been treated unfairly. Should this approach not address the situation, getting legal opinions and support filing formal complaints may be the next step. Here are some resources for this if it becomes necessary.
ARCH Disability Law Centre is a speciality community legal aid clinic dedicated to defending and advancing the equality rights of people with disabilities in Ontario. They work with Ontarians with disabilities and the disability community on law reform and policy initiatives, community development, legal advice and referrals, public legal education and litigation. If you have a work or recruitment situation in which you feel your rights as a person or worker have been violated, make an appointment with to discuss it further.
Downtown Legal Services is both a community legal clinic and a clinical education program, operated by the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto (and is open to UTM students) with an Employment Law Division
Human Rights Legal Support Centre offers human rights legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code.
For more information on your rights as a worker see our tipsheet on Employment Laws.
updated July 2023