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3. How the Code is set up

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The Code is divided into an introductory section followed by five parts. Part I sets out basic rights. Part II explains how to interpret and apply the Code. Part III explains the role and structure of the Commission, and Part IV explains how the Code is enforced, including remedies. Finally, Part V deals with general matters including the supremacy of the Code.

a) Social areas

Human Rights at Work focuses on employment, which is one of five social areas listed in the Code. The other social areas are:

  • services, goods and facilities
  • accommodation (housing)
  • contracts
  • membership in vocational associations (including trade unions).

The Code applies to all employees, in the broadest sense of the word, and all workplaces including those governed by a collective agreement. In many cases, there may be overlaps between employment and other social areas.

Example: A non-profit group runs a drop-in centre for young people at risk of being homeless. Many of the young people are racialized. Some people visiting the centre use bad language that demeans both staff and other users of the drop-in centre based on race, gender and sexual orientation. The group would need to know the rights and responsibilities in the Code under the social area “services, goods and facilities” with regard to the young people using the drop-in centre, and the social area “employment” with regard to its staff.

b) Prohibited discrimination grounds

In the area of employment, the following grounds may apply:

  • race
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • colour
  • ethnic origin
  • citizenship
  • creed (religion)
  • sex (includes gender identity and pregnancy)
  • sexual orientation
  • age (18 years or more)
  • record of offences
  • marital status
  • family status
  • disability (includes perceived disability)

People are also protected from discrimination based on intersecting grounds; when they are associated with someone protected by one of the listed grounds; or when they are perceived to be a member of a group identified by the grounds listed above. See Section III-3 for more information on grounds.

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