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Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group negatively for reasons such as their race, age or disability. These reasons are known as grounds of discrimination. Federal employers and service providers, as well as employers and service providers of private companies that are regulated by the federal government, cannot discriminate against individuals for these reasons.

These 11 grounds are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act (see below):

- race 
- national or ethnic origin 
- colour 
- religion 
- age 
- sex 
- sexual orientation 
- marital status 
- family status 
- disability 
- a conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended.

There are several ways that a person could be discriminated against. The Canadian Human Rights Act calls these discriminatory practices. The following seven discriminatory practices are prohibited by the Canadian Human Rights Act when they are based on one or more of the 11 grounds of discrimination:

- Denying someone goods, services, facilities or accommodation. 
- Providing someone goods, services, facilities or accommodation in a way that treats them adversely and

- Refusing to employ or continue to employ someone, or treating them unfairly in the workplace. 
- Following policies or practices that deprive people of employment opportunities. 
- Paying men and women differently when they are doing work of the same value. 
- Retaliating against a person who has filed a complaint with the Commission or against someone who has filed a
  complaint for them. 

- Harassing someone.

Federal employers are not allowed to discriminate against their employees. In fact, they are obligated to make every effort to accommodate an employee’s individual circumstances that relate to protected grounds of discrimination. We call this the duty to accommodate.

If you work for or receive services from a business or organization that is regulated by the federal government, and you believe you have experienced discrimination because of one of the 11 grounds, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.


- A policy provides benefits to some married couples but not to others. This may be a case of discrimination based
  on two grounds - sexual orientation and marital status.

- A bank has lending rules that make it unreasonably difficult for new immigrants to get loans. This is an example
  of discrimination based on two grounds - race and national or ethnic origin.

- A person is systematically referred to secondary screening at airports due to the colour of their skin. This may
  be a case of discrimination based on the ground of col

- An employer assigns her employees to weekend shifts without recognizing that some employees observe the
  Sabbath and cannot work on those days. This may be a case of discrimination based on the ground of religion.

- An employer’s physical fitness requirements are based on the capabilities of an average 25 year old instead of
  being based on the actual requirements of the job. This is a case of discrimination based on the ground of age.

- A female employee with an excellent performance record announces that she is pregnant. Immediately, her
  employer begins to identify performance issues that lead to her dismissal. This may be a case of discrimination
  based on the ground of sex.

- After having a child, a woman cannot find childcare to continue working overnight shifts, and her employer
  does not allow flexibility by scheduling her on day shifts. This may be a case of discrimination based on the
  ground of family status.

- An employer requires all employees to have a valid driver’s licence. People who cannot drive due to a disability
  are not given an opportunity to show how they could still perform the job by, for example, using public transit.
  This may be a case of discrimination based on the ground of disability.

- A person is denied a job because of a previous conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record 
  has been suspended. This may be a case of discrimination based on the ground of pardoned conviction.


The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

To view the Canadian Human Rights Act in its entirety, please click here.


The Ontario Human Rights Code (the "Code") states that it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. The provisions of the Code are aimed at creating a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person, so that each person feels a part of the community and feels able to contribute to the community. Every person in Ontario has a right to be free from discrimination and harassment relating to sexual orientation in the all the social areas protected by the Code. These include employment, services, goods and facilities, housing accommodation, contracts, and membership in trade unions and vocational associations

To view the Ontario Human Right Code in it's entirety, please click here.