Even without the legal requirement not to discriminate, providing a fair work environment that respects the dignity of all employees is in an organization’s best interests. Today's global economy, multicultural society and highly competitive corporate environment place greater demands on all organizations. Employers need to recruit and retain the best employees for their organizations, and part of that process involves selecting and keeping employees with diverse backgrounds and talents from the widest possible pool of candidates.
Given that around 75% of all human rights complaints arise in the workplace, it makes good business sense to take proactive action to ensure compliance with the Code. Taking prompt steps to address human rights allegations internally will minimize the costs of unresolved human rights complaints: low employee morale, high stress, employee absences and turnover, damaged professional and organizational reputations, and costly hours of litigation before tribunals and courts. Under the new Code amendments, employers face significant human rights damage awards and other remedies from the courts as well as from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. This heightens the importance of employers being diligent and proactive in addressing and preventing Code violations.
Knowing your rights and obligations is the start of the process. Putting policies and practices in place that create and maintain a fair work environment is the desired result of that process.