Human Rights Complaints

Employees in Ontario with a Human Rights complaint have a number of options.  First of all, a key issue is determining whether the employer is federally or provincially regulated.

                                              i.     Canadian Human Rights Act

If the employer is federally regulated (eg. airlines, banks, railway companies, telecommunications companies), employees wishing to file human rights complaints will need to proceed under the Canadian Human Rights Act.  Detailed information about the process for filing and proceeding with this type of complaint can be found at the Canadian Human Rights Commission website – http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/default-eng.aspx.

                                             ii.     Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

Employees in Ontario who are provincially regulated now have a choice.  They can file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.  Complainants can proceed through this process with or without legal counsel, though, generally, the Tribunal will not award legal costs to the successful party.  There is a Human Rights Legal Support Centre, which will assist qualified complainants through some or all of the steps of the process. The Centre’s website is at http://www.hrlsc.on.ca/en/Default.aspx.  Most parties will opt to attend mediation as part of the Human Rights complaint process.  It will often make sense to have qualified legal counsel attend at these mediations to provide guidance, advice and representation.

                                          iii.     Human Rights Claims in the Court System

Employees in Ontario can, alternatively, add claims for violation of the Human Rights Code to their lawsuits, at any Court level.  Claims can be made for “general damages.” Meritorious claims can often be settled with significant tax-free settlement amounts.

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