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Maragos Legal has the experience to provide sound advice in matters related to your human rights, and the vigor to advocate those rights on your behalf before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario or “HRTO”. The HRTO resolves claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Human Rights Code in a fair, just and timely manner. The Code establishes equal rights and opportunities in Ontario. The Code also provides all individuals in the province with the right to be free from discrimination.


Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities and to be free from discrimination on the grounds of:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Colour
  • Race
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic Origin
  • Place of Origin
  • Creed
  • Disability
  • Family Status
  • Gender Identity
  • Gender Expression
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Record of Offences

Discrimination can take many forms but is generally defined as a distinction related to the characteristics of an individual or group, which has the effect of imposing obligations, or disadvantages on the individual or group that is not imposed upon others, or which limits access to opportunities, benefits, and advantages available to other society members.

Discrimination can be straightforward and blatant such as when an employee is denied a job opportunity because of the colour of his or her skin, age, or religion. But sometimes it can be very subtle. Subtle forms of discrimination can often only be detected upon examining all of the circumstances. As well, contrasting how one person was treated with how others were treated in a comparable situation, or looking for patterns of behaviour will help to determine whether subtle discrimination was at play. There are many examples of subtle forms of racial discrimination. In employment, it can take the form of failing to hire, train, mentor or promote a racialized person. Racialized persons may find themselves subjected to excessive performance monitoring or may be more seriously blamed for a common mistake. Subtle racial discrimination can occur in a variety of other contexts as well. In housing, racialized persons may be turned away as tenants, or may not be granted equal access to maintenance and repairs. Issues also arise in services and facilities including malls, restaurants, movie theatres, education services and healthcare services.

Harassment occurs when an individual or group is subjected to a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome and that is related to the personal characteristics of the individual or group.

After an application and a response are filed, the HRTO offers opposing parties the opportunity to settle the dispute through mediation. If the parties do not wish to mediate the dispute, or mediation does not resolve the issue the HRTO will schedule a hearing.

Are there situations where the Human Rights Code allows unequal treatment?

Yes, the Code provides certain defences and exemptions to discrimination.

For example, although the Code states that a person cannot be treated differently because of their age, it allows different insurance rates based on age.

Another example of an exemption occurs in housing. The Code allows an owner to refuse to rent to someone based on their gender or race if:

  • The owner or his or her family also lives on the premises; and,
  • The owner or his or her family would be sharing a kitchen or bathroom with the tenant

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