Know Your

Work Place Rights

Self-Care Sundays

5 min read          By Feven Desta

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects us against discriminatory acts that are overt/individual and systemic. 

As an employee, you have the right to equal treatment without discrimination – regardless your race, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, sex, gender, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.

Employers have the duty to accommodate by adapting the terms of employment or duties and work environment. This is along the same line when an employer has to consider a person’s disabilities (e.g. injuries, illnesses or conditions), age, religion, marital status, immigration status, ethnicity or family obligations.

Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees, fostering an environment free from discrimination and harm.


Here's what workplace violence and harassment can look like:


A person in a workplace relationship that threatens or attempts to physically harm them at work

Physical force against a worker at work that causes or could cause injury

Statement or behaviour that could be interpreted as a threat to exercise physical force/cause harm


Words or actions that are offensive, humiliating or degrading to a worker or group of workers e.g. bullying, racist jokes, sexist jokes, unwelcomed nicknames etc.


Words or actions associated with sex, sexual orientation or gender that are offensive, humiliating or degrading to a worker or group of workers.

What are my rights?

  1. You have the right to know about hazards in your workplace and to be trained on these hazards and how they are controlled for your safety.

  2. You have the right to refuse unsafe work or be placed in situations where you feel you're in danger.

  3. You have the right to participate in all aspects of health and safety within your workplace.

It’s not easy approaching

employers with a complaint. Many of us fear that we'd be bullied, threatened, excluded, demoted or terminated.

In Ontario, there’s a specific Work Refusal process that you and your employer must engage in. If your Health & Safety concern/work refusal cannot be solved within your workplace, the Ministry of Labour has a procedure where they'll get involved.  

Who can I contact?

For human rights legal advice or assistance with filing an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, contact the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre at: 416-597-4900 or 1-866-625-5179 and speak with a Human Rights Advisor. You can download application forms from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

If you believe you’ve been disciplined or fired for exercising your workplace rights under The Occupational Health and Safety Act, you can file a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Call the Health and Safety Contact Centre, at 1-877-202-0008 (toll-free) Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They’ll help you with filing a complaint, legal advice or finding representation.