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Can my employer fire me because I am pregnant?

Simply put, no! The Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes pregnancy and breastfeeding. This protection is not only afforded to you in the workplace but also in services you may access (such as restaurants) and accommodation (where you live) among other things. The Employment Standards Act in Ontario also provides protections relating to pregnancy.

It is important to note that your employer can still terminate your employment for other reasons, so long as your pregnancy is not a factor in their decision to do so.

The Code provides protection to all related experiences of a pregnancy, including those trying to conceive, abortion, miscarriages and pregnancy all the way to childbirth, choosing to breastfeed or not and child caring responsibilities.

Not only is it prohibited for your employer to terminate your employment because of pregnancy, they have a positive duty to provide an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, and must address it if and when it arises.

Finally, everyone will experience harassment differently. The Code protects all individuals from pregnancy-related sex discrimination, including those who, for example, may have disabilities, individuals that are gender non-conforming, racialized, Indigenous, lesbian or bi-sexual.

If you are experiencing harassment or discrimination in relation to pregnancy or you have been terminated, there may be recourse for you. Contact a lawyer to discuss your options and learn more about your rights.
 
Nicole Biros-Bolton
Nicole Biros-Bolton
P: 905.572-5805
nbirosbolton@rossmcbride.com