Blog Post #991 – End Sexualized Dress Codes in Ontario

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (archived)

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) took International Women’s Day on March 08, 2016, as an opportunity to call for an end to discriminate dress codes for female workers.

The Commission issued a new policy position on its website, stating that the requiring female and transgender employees to wear high heels, short skirts, tight clothes and/or low-cut tops is a possible violation of the province’s Human Rights Code. “Employees must make sure their dress codes don’t reinforce sexist stereotypes. They send the message that an employee’s worth is tied to how they look,” Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane says in a press statement.

The policy position states that an employer should be prepared to prove that any sex-based differences in the dress code are legitimately linked to the requirements of the job. “Where this cannot be shown, these dress codes will be discriminatory,” the position reads.

My opinion

I have researched this and found the actually report by Chief Commissioner, Renu Manhane. I have decided to add, to this post, two paragraphs from that report as I believe them to be relevant even today.

Dan Beal

Excerpt from the March 07, 2016 report. (written by Renu Mandhane)

For me, the answer must start with understanding freedom from sexual harassment as a basic human right. Realizing the freedom from violence is essential to human dignity, equality, and hope. Cultural change of this magnitude requires sustained dialogue, from the pulpit and podium, in the boardroom, and at water coolers and dinner tables across the country.  It requires the equal engagement of men and boys, and honest conversations that avoid strict binaries of victim and perpetrator. And it requires us all to work to end impunity, including seeking legal redress for violation of sexual harassment whether it occurs in the workplace, on campus, in rental housing, or in state care.

Beyond the compelling narrative of sexual harassment as human rights abuse, filing a claim for redress through the human rights process offers survivors unique advantages. Survivors have unparalleled agency to control and shape the case as an applicant in a human rights case.  Proving sexual harassment before a tribunal is not as onerous as in a criminal trial because the allegations must only be proved on a balance of probabilities (rather than beyond a reasonable doubt). Most importantly, the human rights system allows survivors to hold both individuals and institutions accountable, which reinforces the cultural shift towards ending impunity for sexual violence. Beyond monetary compensation (for example, for lost income or therapy), survivors can seek remedies that protect other women from future harm (such as anti-harassment policies, specialized complaints processes, and mandatory training and education).

My opinion part II

The big boys club seems to be coming to an end and its about time too. I can remember the 70s and 80s and the way new female employees were treated. The good-looking ones were being continually harassed by sexual invites and many did not remain. The stronger ones, however, did.

Sometime in the 90s, I believe, the changes became apparent and I remember an elderly gent given 30 days for possibly ogling a young lady. The sad part was that he wasn’t and he put in for retirement after his suspension was over. His job was to monitor the operator for one cycle (approximately 2 minutes) and to ensure specification compliance. One of the early swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction.

The need for protection of all workers is necessary and now we recognize that certain issues can be deemed to be sexual in nature and cannot be tolerated. We are certainly getting better at the awareness stage.

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.


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