Discrimination may include not judging a person on their own merits, but rather making stereotypical assumptions which can result in exclusion, denial of benefits or imposition of burdens upon that person.

Some forms of discrimination are obvious, and on their face violate the Ontario Human Rights Code and/or Employment Standards Act, 2000. Examples could be a policy against employing those with children, or discouraging job candidates of specific racial or religious backgrounds. Discrimination can, however, occur in many other, more subtle ways.

Discrimination can include exclusion from informal get-togethers, where many networking opportunities and business deals occur, being passed over for mentoring opportunities, promotions, or advanced training, or being consistently assigned less desirable duties. Additionally, expressions of stereotypical beliefs in the workplace may be evidence of discrimination, or may themselves be prohibited due to the creation of an unfriendly work environment. Other examples can include accusations of lack of commitment due to family status, or beliefs or comments regarding your personal characteristics based on race, gender, or sexuality.

However, not all actions relating to your status as belonging to a protected group are discriminatory. For example, while your employer is required to accommodate your religious requirements, exceptions may need to be made for various legitimate reasons, including health and safety concerns.

Employees with a disability are also protected under the Code, and employers are required to modify job duties and the workplace itself to ensure accessibility. However, employees may be required to provide medical information to assist the employer to understand what accommodation may be required.  Further, the Code only obliges the employer to accommodate employees to the point of “undue hardship”, which depends upon the facts of each case.