Your rights: Mental Health Disabilities are Protected by the Law

Mental health is often an exceptionally misunderstood subject. From employment relationships to service relationships, the stigma attached to anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and personality disorders often prevents people from being able to receive equal treatment and protection within the context of the above relationships, plus many more. Disabilities often express themselves differently for everyone. Someone with anxiety might have a difficult time communicating, while someone with depression might have a difficult time meeting attendance expectations at work and school. Similarly, some people might express behavioral difficulties as a result of their bipolar disorder which could affect their performance at work or school.   The symptoms, signs, and behaviors  associated with your disability(ies) is not your fault and you should never feel bad  about having anxiety, depression, etc.

The Ontario Human Rights Code [The “Code“] is quasi-provincial human rights legislation which ensures that disabled person(s) are able to receive equal protection and treatment under the law. ‘Quasi-provincial’ means that no other legislation in the province is superior to the Code. In essence, the Code trumps all, including the polices of your workplace.

Most often, people do not understand that “mental health disabilities”  are protected within the meaning of section 10 of the Code. This means that your employer, service provider (i.e., landlord, educational institution, grocery store, etc) cannot discriminate against you when they know that you have a disability , or “perceive” that you have a disability, within the meaning of the s.10 of the Code, unless they have accommodated you to the point of undue hardship.  

If you have anxiety and depression, or some other mental health disability such as post traumatic stress disorder, and this affects your ability to perform adequately at work, or impedes your ability to complete academic assignments on time, speak to your university, college, high school,  or employer about receiving accommodation. They have an obligation to inquire into the nature of your disability so that they can determine how your disability affects your ability to perform. This is critical in ensuring that you receive appropriate accommodation which in turn, ensures that you have the meaningful opportunity to be fully included within the workplace and/or or your academic environment.  If the person responsible for providing accommodation fails to accommodate you to the point of undue hardship, and you suffer adverse consequences as a result, your rights might be violated under the Code and you should seek legal advice from a lawyer or paralegal who practices within human rights law about filing a human rights application.

If you feel like your rights have been violated under the Code, you can contact the Law Society of Upper Canada, Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326 or you can visit them on the web at You’ll receive a “code” which will entitle you to a 30 minute free consultation with a lawyer or paralegal who practices within the area of law you need assistance with.  (Yay for access to justice!)

Alternatively, you can contact the Human Rights Legal Support Center at 1-866-625-5179 or you can visit them on the web at


*This post should not be construed as legal advice, but rather, information about your rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code. For more information about your rights, you should visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission for some great publications! 🙂