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"Does the Ontario Human Rights Code apply to recruiting and selecting volunteers?"


Organizations do need to comply with the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) when recruiting and selecting volunteers.

The OHRC identifies the obligations of employers when hiring someone to work for their organization. While the Code does not refer specifically to volunteers, the Ontario Human Rights Commission takes the position that “equal treatment with respect to employment” can be interpreted to provide protection to anyone in a work-like context.

It is therefore consistent with both the spirit and the letter of the OHRC to conduct your volunteer hiring process, and to manage your volunteers, in a manner that complies with the Code.

The OHRC does not apply to everything we do, wherever we are. The Code focuses on prohibiting discrimination in five protected social areas. Employment is one of those 5 areas.

Freedom from discrimination in employment - Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion), sex (includes gender identity and pregnancy), sexual orientation, age (18 years of age or more), record of offences, marital status, family status or disability (includes physical disabilities and invisible disabilities, such as mental illness).

For more information on employer obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, refer to Human Rights At Work, Third Edition, 2008 available on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s website.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is updating its 1996 Policy on Creed and the Accommodation of Religious Observances. Please consider filling out their Human Rights and Creed Survey, and sharing it with your networks and peers.

  * All answers are for information purposes only.

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