Now is the time for stronger laws when it comes to sexualized dress codes (Guest Commentary)

They contribute to unwelcome, discriminatory environment, often in precarious jobs
By Debora De Angelis
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/01/2016

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has issued a warning to employers that sexist dress codes requiring female staff to wear high heels, short skirts, tight clothing or low-cut tops as part of the job could be a human rights violation. The OHRC issued a policy paper on March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day, calling for an end to workplace dress codes that discriminate. 

Sexualized and gender-specific dress codes are all too common in restaurants and bars, and can be found in other services as well. Whether in formal policy or informal practice, they contribute to an unwelcome and discriminatory employment environment for women. 

Employers do have a right to have a policy on dress codes, but only if it does not violate the Ontario Human Rights Code.