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What if I'm not hired because an employer discriminates against me?
Clear language definitions to common legal terms.
If an employer discriminates against you in a way that goes against Ontario's human rights laws, you might be able to make a claim against the employer. You do this with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
The Tribunal could order the employer to pay you money or even offer you a job.
What human rights laws say about discrimination
Employers aren't allowed to discriminate for reasons that go against human rights laws.
This means that, in most cases, an employer can't decide not to hire you because of:
- your race, colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, citizenship, or where you were born
- your religious beliefs
- a physical or mental disability, including an addiction
- having children, planning to have children, or being pregnant
- your marital status, for example, married, divorced, single, or living common-law
- your sex or gender
- your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression
- your age if you are at least 18
- being convicted of a crime if you have a pardon or record suspension
Some employers say they have rules that apply to everyone and they can't hire you if you can't follow them. But what the employer is doing might be discrimination if you can't follow a rule for a reason that goes against your human rights.
For example, an employer might have a dress code or rule about what people have to wear at work. And this rule might apply to everyone. But the employer might have to let you dress differently if you wear something for religious reasons.
Asking about experience in Canada
An employer should not ask if you have "Canadian experience", unless they can show that you need it to do the job.
An employer can ask you if you're allowed to work in Canada. But, for most jobs, it's difficult for an employer to show that work experience in Canada is necessary.
If an employer refuses to hire you because you don't have experience working in Canada, you might be able to make a human rights claim. Find out more about this in the Next Steps below.
Hiring people from specific groups
You may see some job postings that say that the employer is hiring people who belong to a specific group or groups.
The law lets employers do this for specific reasons. These might be to help groups that are often discriminated against or because an organization works with a specific group of people and needs to hire someone from that group to do some types of work.
Here are some examples:
- A big company might have a special hiring program to try to make their workforce more diverse by including more people from a variety of racial communities.
- An organization that serves a specific group, like young people, might be allowed to hire younger workers to do community outreach work.