While in most case, this type of action would have failed to pass the human rights sniff test, the province’s Bill 21 allowed this to happen legally.
“In most workplaces, it’s probably not a significant issue to the point where the dress code would even address this, but I think the critical thing is that employers need to be mindful of the fact that they have obligations to accommodate human rights and they also have an obligation to not be implementing policies that negatively impact people of certain religions. If somebody’s wearing a hijab, for example, at the workplace, it doesn’t really have any connection to what they actually do,” says Nicole Toye, an employment lawyer and partner at Harris & Company.
While many workers went home in the early part of the pandemic and turned in business attire for home casual, questions still arose as some employers actually required some female employees to dress provocatively to gain new customers or present a better face while on the job.
But is this above board?
“An employer can ask employees to dress professionally and to have a respectful appearance in the workplace, especially in situations where you’re dealing with clients and customers. That is a reasonable expectation and it’s an expectation that an employer should communicate to all its employees,” says employment lawyer Lior Samfiru.