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What are employee rights in Ontario when a co-worker is a bigot?

Most people in the workplace try to get along with one another. But when one of those co-workers is an alleged bigot or racist and makes comments that make others uncomfortable, employee rights in Ontario could be infringed upon. Often, these sorts of people have no filters and risk offending their co-workers with inappropriate remarks that are either racist, sexist or show a high level of intolerance of people's differences.

If an employee finds him or herself in this situation, it makes sense  to speak to a manager because Ontario employers, by law, must have policies in place that clearly prohibit any sort of racism or sexism in the workplace. More often than not, however, the employees making the untoward comments may not even be aware they're doing anything wrong since this kind of conduct may have been a part of their environment their entire lives and so don't understand the incorrectness of what they say or do. This doesn't excuse their actions, however.

When these comments or actions turn into harassment or bullying, that is even more problematic. If an employee bullies or harasses another employee, a manager definitely should become involved. Bullying is intimidating behaviour and it can include off-colour jokes or actions toward one or several individuals that are harmful or divisive. If an employee is physically threatened, it could also be a matter for the authorities. 

There are many employee rights in Ontario that are in place to protect workers. When anyone feels uncomfortable or threatened in the workplace and has not received help from employers, obtaining legal counsel might be of help. A lawyer would be able to offer advice to an employee who could take action by way of seeking compensation for what he or she has endured.


Source:, "So Your Co-Worker Is A Bigot", Mark Swartz, Accessed on Jan. 19, 2018

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