What can I do if I’m discriminated against because of my race?

The Ontario Human Rights Code says that you cannot be discriminated against because of your race:

  • at work
  • where you live
  • when making a contract
  • in a or professional group
  • by a service provider, like a store, restaurant, school, or hospital
  • when dealing with the police.

Sometimes racial discrimination can be very clear. This is called “direct discrimination“. It happens when:

  • a rule applies to people of one race but not to people of other races, or
  • there's a rule against hiring people of a certain race.

Other examples include racial slurs, violence, and paying people less because of their race.

Other types of discrimination are not as clear. Sometimes a rule that applies to everyone can have a racist effect.

For example, a workplace rule that employees must have short hair might discriminate against Black workers with dreadlocks or Sikh workers with turbans. This rule could discriminate, even though it technically applies to everyone. This is sometimes called “constructive discrimination” or “adverse-effect discrimination“.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has more information about racial discrimination.

What you can do

If you think you've been discriminated against because of your race or for another reason, you can make a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Tribunal can order the person who discriminated against you to:

  • pay you for the harm they caused you, and
  • order them to do or stop doing things related to the discrimination.

If you've been discriminated against at work, you may be able to quit your job and then sue your employer for . This is called . To claim constructive dismissal, you must leave your job. Read more in Step 3.

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