The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognizes that it is a legitimate goal for employers to have a safe workplace. Safety at work can be negatively affected by many factors, including fatigue, stress, distractions and hazards in the workplace. Drug and alcohol testing is one method employers sometimes use to address safety concerns arising from drug and alcohol use. Drug and alcohol testing has particular human rights implications for people with addictions. Addictions to drugs or alcohol are considered “disabilities” under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). The Code prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and perceived disabilities in employment, services, housing and other social areas.
The Code states that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination or harassment because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.
The right to “equal treatment with respect to employment” covers every aspect of the workplace environment and employment relationship, including job applications, recruitment, training, transfers, promotions, apprenticeship terms, dismissal and layoffs. It also covers rate of pay, overtime, hours of work, holidays, benefits, shift work, discipline and performance evaluations.
Relevant policies and guides:
- Policy on removing the "Canadian experience" barrier
- Human rights at work 2008 - 3rd edition
- Guidelines on developing human rights policies and procedures
- Policy on employment-related medical information
- Policy on drug and alcohol testing
- Policy on requiring a drivers license as a condition of employment
- Human rights maturity model (Canadian Human Rights Commission)
This document sets out various actions that governments can take that are broadly consistent with a human rights-based approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions are neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. Instead, they are a compilation of possible responses that are consistent with Canada and Ontario’s human rights obligations.
June 1996 - Standards for height and weight are sometimes used to screen or evaluate job applicants. In the OHRC's experience, this tends to occur in recruitment for occupations that traditionally have been male dominated. These standards or selection criteria are based on the average physical stature of men in the majority population group. Women and members of racialized groups are, on the average, physically smaller than members of the majority population group. Consequently, these groups tend to be disadvantaged by height and weight criteria. The policy of the OHRC with regard to such recruitment practices is set out below. This policy applies to all height and weight criteria used in the context of employment.
June 1996 - The guidelines contained in this policy are intended to help applicants, employees and employers to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding employment-related medical information.
September 2000 - A driver's licence contains personal information about an individual which could lead to the classification of a job applicant according to a prohibited ground of discrimination, contrary to subsection 23(2) of the Code. Therefore, unless a driver's licence is required to enable a person to perform the essential duties of a job, it should not be requested in an application form or during an employment interview.
October 1999 - The objective of the Paper is twofold: to promote dialogue on protecting human rights in the insurance industry and to examine alternatives to current practices by obtaining input from experts, regulators and consumers. Access to insurance in our society raises significant issues about distributive justice and fairness in the public sphere, issues that have received scant attention in Canada and in Ontario where rate setting has traditionally been viewed as a private matter.
September 2000 - Drug and alcohol testing are of particular concern in the workplace, notably for those Ontario employers that have safety sensitive operations, and/or that are subject to U.S. regulatory requirements (e.g. the trucking industry) or to the policies of U.S. affiliates with “zero tolerance” for the consumption of drugs or alcohol. For this reason, this Policy focuses on the workplace. However, it applies to other social areas as well.
October 2003 - The Report begins with a brief explanation and definition of racial profiling. In addition, the Report explains the human cost of racial profiling on the individuals, families and communities that experience it. It details the detrimental impact that profiling is having on societal institutions such as the education system, law enforcement agencies, service providers and so forth. It also outlines the business case against profiling – in essence the economic loss sustained as a result of racial profiling.
2006 - The Canadian Commission for UNESCO is inviting municipalities from across Canada to join a Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination and be part of a larger international coalition being promoted by UNESCO. This booklet provides information that will be useful in understanding some of the important details of this Coalition.
May 2007 - The Human Rights Project aims to provide time limited support to the TPSB and the TPS in their ongoing initiatives aimed at identifying and eliminating any possible discrimination in the hiring and employment of TPS members and in the delivery of services by the TPS. This Project Charter details the agreed upon relationship to be established between the three parties to fulfill these aims.