The Act defines family status as “being related to another person by blood, marriage, or adoption.”
The Act prohibits discrimination or adverse treatment based on a person’s relationship with a family member. For instance, it is against the Act to fire someone because their spouse was fired from the same employer. Discrimination against someone based on their family status is also prohibited by the Act, for example, refusing to rent to someone who is a single parent
Additionally, individuals who are required to care for family members (for example, parents caring for children) may require housing in certain circumstances. Please see the Commission’s information sheet Employment: Duty to accommodate and the human rights guide Duty to accommodate for more information on the duty to accommodate.
The Act defines marital status as being married, single, widowed, divorced, separated, or living in a conjugal relationship with another person. This definition encompasses both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.
Employers and service providers should not discriminate against someone on the basis of their marital status (for example, widowed or divorced) or spousal relationship with another person. For instance, it is against the Act for an employer to refuse to hire someone solely because their spouse works for the same company, or for a landlord to refuse to rent to a common-law couple.
Family and marital status are protected in all areas covered by the Act, which include the following:
published, issued, or displayed before the public statements, publications, notices, signs, symbols, emblems, or other representations
гenerally available goods, services, housing, or facilities
advertisements or job applications
union membership, employer organization membership, or occupational association membership
Discrimination on the basis of marital or family status is defined as negative treatment based on one’s family or marital status that has a negative (or adverse) effect on an individual or group.
For instance, it would be discriminatory for an employer, landlord, or service provider to treat a person differently on the basis of their family or marital status, or their relationship with their spouse or another family member.
A person seeking housing due to their family or marital status is generally expected to exhaust all available resources before approaching an employer, landlord, or service provider for assistance. However, once an employee, landlord, or service provider requests accommodation to meet their family or marital status needs, the employer, landlord, or service provider must accommodate the employee, landlord, or service provider reasonably and without undue hardship. The Commission’s human rights guide Duty to accommodate contains information about undue hardship.
Accommodation is frequently associated with caregiving responsibilities and legal obligations to others, such as parents caring for children, rather than with a preference or choice.
Employers should avoid using job application forms that indicate a preference based on an applicant’s family or marital status when recruiting or interviewing potential employees. Employers should avoid inquiring about an applicant’s family or marital status. These rules are subject to exceptions when a person’s family or marital status is related to a bona fide occupational requirement (the legitimate requirements of the job).
Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ family and/or marital status. The obligation to accommodate frequently arises as a result of caregiving responsibilities and legal obligations to others, such as parents caring for children.
Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations when an employee’s family or marital status impairs their ability to perform their job duties.
However, if an employee is unable to perform their duties due to family or marital status and the job requirements are bona fide occupational requirements (legitimate job requirements), or if accommodating the employee would impose an undue hardship on the employer, the employer may be unable to accommodate the employee.
For instance, an employer may be required to accommodate an employee’s schedule if they are required to drop a child off at daycare, particularly if they are unable to make alternative arrangements or are the primary caregiver.
Human rights law recognizes the rights and significance of families, as well as their housing requirements. In the area of tenancy, the law prohibits discrimination based on family and marital status. Discrimination can take the form of landlords refusing to rent to families with children or treating single-parent families negatively.
However, a landlord may refuse to rent to a family if it can be demonstrated that the refusal is reasonable and justified, such as when a residence is specifically designed to meet the needs of seniors.