Punishment for exercising rights

If you believe that your rights under the Code have been violated, you can contact the Legal Support Centre, consult a lawyer of your own choosing, file a human rights application with the Tribunal, or file a grievance under your collective agreement to protect your rights. You may not be punished or threatened with punishment for trying to exercise these rights. Any attempt or threat to punish you is called a “reprisal.”

The following examples may be a form of punishment or “reprisal” and can result in another human rights claim:

  • A tenant makes a claim under the Code against a landlord and tells the landlord of this. The landlord then refuses to make requested repairs to the tenant’s unit and increases the rent as a form of punishment.
  • An employee believes that he was not promoted in his job because he is racialized. He tells his manager that he will contact the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to make a claim of discrimination. The next day, he is fired.
  • An employee quits her job after making a sexual harassment claim under the Code against her employer and obtains new employment. She discovers that her previous employer contacted her present employer and made negative comments about her because of her human rights claim.

Poisoned environment

You might feel that your workplace or housing is hostile or unwelcoming to you because of insulting or degrading comments or actions that have been made about you or others based on a Code ground. When comments or conduct of this kind have an influence on others and how they are treated based on Code grounds, this is known as a “poisoned environment.”

A poisoned environment cannot, however, be based only on your personal views. There must be facts to show that an objective person would see that the comments or conduct would make a person feel unwelcome or uncomfortable at work.


A restaurant owner makes negative remarks about African-Canadians. A co-worker of Chinese origin believes that that work environment is “poisoned” for all racialized people because of these comments.