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What is Defined as discrimination?

Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability. Intent to discriminate is not necessary.

When many people think of discrimination, they think only of situations of open harassment against a certain group. But it doesn’t have to be. Discrimination can be subtle. Intent or motive to discriminate is not necessary for a case of discrimination – it is sufficient if the conduct has a discriminatory effect, even if it’s unintentional.

Subtle forms of discrimination can often only be detected after looking at all of the circumstances. It is a fact-driven determination. The test for subtle discrimination is if an objective by-stander similarly situated when viewing all the evidence as a whole will conclude that discrimination had occurred. Subtle discrimination could be hard to find. Some investigation and analysis of the total context of the alleged behaviour, comment or conduct may be required.

The following types of treatment in employment may indicate subtle discrimination:

  • being excluded from formal or informal gatherings, such as after-hours get-togethers or office parties

  • being denied mentoring or developmental opportunities such as training that are available to other employees

  • differences in management practices, such as excessive monitoring, micromanagement and requiring the employee to document everything that he or she does

  • Assigned less desirable jobs or duties

  • Workload mismatch - Assigned more job responsibilities or workload as compared to other employees.

What to Do in Case of Discrimination?

When you are a victim of discrimination, you should file a complaint to the management at your workplace, and request that the manager to stop the discriminatory act. All employer in Ontario have a duty to investigate into each and every complaint, and a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship to correct or to minimize the impact of discrimination.

Click here to learn more about Harassment & Discrimination.

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