Is the Ontario Human Rights Code All Bark And No Bite?
Updated: Jul 6
The Ontario Human Rights Code is A major Workplace Harassment and one of the main Workplace Discrimination legislation. Continue Reading to find out more about how the Human Rights Code can be of assistance to you.
Why Should I Care About the Human Rights Code?
Ontario has zero tolerance of harassment and discrimination pursuant to the Human Rights Code against protected grounds such as age, disability, race, etc... When you are a victim of harassment in the workplace or a victim of discrimination in the workplace, you are entitled to file a claim to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).
Failure to reply to an application under the Human Rights Code has serious implications.
To guarantee that a Respondent CANNOT frustrate the Code by failing to reply, the Respondent is: 1. presumed to have accepted all of the charges made against them; 2. presumed to have forfeited all rights to notice or participation; 3. not entitled to additional notice with regard to the Application. See e.g. Farmer v. Wise Water Solutions, 2020 HRTO 467, and Kearns v. 1327827 Ontario, 2009 HRTO 457.
What Do I Expect To Gain from a Human Rights Complaint?
Each case is unique and Human Rights law isn't exactly rocket science, and there's no formula in computing damage awards. But anyone who believes they can get away with workplace harassment cheaply is terribly mistaken! In recent years, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has shown a readiness to significantly enhance the amount of awards when the "proper facts" are provided to them. See e.g. A.B. v. Joe Singer Shoes Limited, 2018 HRTO 107; G.M. v. X Tattoo Parlour, 2018 HRTO 201.
In A.B. v. Joe Singer Shoes Limited, the HRTO find the store and the landlord, inter alia, jointly and severally liable with Mr. Singer for the violations of the Human Rights Code and order them jointly and severally to pay to the applicant the amount of $200,000.00 as compensation for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect, plus pre-judgment interest at the rate of 2.5% running from January 1, 2008 to the date of the decision, January 24, 2018!!
In G.M. v. X Tattoo Parlour, the HRTO find the employer, inter alia, liable pay to the applicant the sum of $75,000 as monetary compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect within 60 days of the decision, with pre-judgment interest starting from August 1, 2014; and post-judgment interest commencing 60 days after the date of the decision (February 26, 2018).
A complaint to the HRTO is become very technical as the HRTO is drowned by backlogs. If you don't draft your application properly, your case will be dismissed at the first sight. A Workplace harassment lawyer Consultation is highly recommended.