The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) writes policies to help people understand what types of discrimination are. In addition, these policies outline how to prevent and respond to different forms of discrimination. According to the OHRC’s Policy on Ableism and Discrimination based on disability, people can protest when they experience discrimination. For instance, people can protest directly to a discriminating organization, or to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). When people protest, organizations sometimes threaten reprisals against them. In other words, the organization will threaten to take more actions to harm them if they protest against the discrimination they are already experiencing. However, the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) forbids organizations from making reprisals. Instead, people have the right to object to discrimination and to seek remedies from organizations that discriminate against them.
People with disabilities, or who belong to other groups that the Code protects, have ways of objecting to any discrimination they experience. For instance, a person can
make an internal complaint of discrimination. In other words, they can alert their employer, landlord, or service provider that they have experienced discrimination within that organization. Moreover, they can file a grievance against an employer that has discriminated. Furthermore, they can make an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). Alternatively, someone who has experienced discrimination may not take any action. However, members of the discriminating organization may fear some form of protest. As a result, members of the organization may make threats or take negative actions against the person. In other words, an organization may threaten reprisal against someone whether or not they have protested discrimination.
For example, an employer may refuse to implement the employment accommodations a worker has requested. If the employer knows or fears that the worker will protest, the employer may threaten reprisal. For instance, the employer could threaten to fire the worker unless the worker agrees not to complain about lack of accommodations.
Someone can prove that they have experienced reprisal without proving the discrimination that inspired that reprisal. On the contrary, to show that they have been threatened with reprisal, a person must prove that the organization has acted or threatened to act against them. Furthermore, the person must show that the organization’s threats or actions were in response to the person’s ability to enforce their rights under the Code.
In addition, the Code also protects people whose loved ones experience discrimination. Under the Code, organizations cannot make reprisals against people whose loved ones have protested against discrimination they have experienced.