Human Rights Legal Support Centre

Welcome to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre offers human rights legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code. Our services may include legal assistance in filing applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and legal representation at mediations and hearings.

There are many problems that are not related to the Human Rights Code. A project of CLEO, Your Legal Rights is a website of free legal information for people in Ontario. This site has free, practical, and easy-to-find legal information produced by hundreds of organizations across Ontario.

Board of Directors appoints Sharmaine Hall as the new HRLSC Executive Director and thanks Kathy Laird for successfully leading the HRLSC for its first eight years. 

It is with great pleasure that the Board wishes to announce that it has appointed Sharmaine Hall to the lead the HRLSC as its Executive Director. Sharmaine’s appointment comes after conducting an exhaustive search based on criteria collectively developed by the Board and staff of the Centre.

As many of you know, immediately prior to assuming her position with the HRLSC, Sharmaine was the Executive Director of Hamilton’s Dundurn Community Legal Services. While in that position, Sharmaine worked with the Clinic’s various funders, and a variety of community based stakeholders and communities. Since assuming her position with the HRLSC, among other accomplishments, Sharmaine has led the successful implementation of the Centre’s partnership with Osgoode Hall Law School’s Anti-Discrimination Intensive Program. 

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Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence: Pursuing a Claim at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Survivors of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and in other specific social settings (for example, in schools, at your doctor’s office, on campus) have the right to protection under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.   This is in addition to participating in a criminal process, or, as an alternative to a civil lawsuit. Claims of sexual harassment can be filed directly at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  If you want to pursue a claim, you can obtain free legal services from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. 

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Ontario's Divisional Court rejects police and doctor's efforts to bar human rights claims: 

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre successfully defended two clients seeking justice beyond the narrow scope of a professional regulatory body's oversight. 

Update: Gender identity application was resolved October 27th at the HRTO.

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To read the full decision, visit Canlii

What's New at the Centre

ODSP recipient’s human rights application leads to Ministry policy and procedures review

The Centre represented a woman who has multiple disabilities which affect her mobility. She asked her Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) worker to accommodate her need to have communication by email as she also has a communication disability.  As she continued to have concerns about the way her accommodation request was handled, the Centre negotiated an agreement with the Ministry of Community and Social Services that included:

  • An individualized accommodation plan with detailed provisions for all her requested accommodations and a clear complaint process.
  • The Ministry agreed to retain an expert in human rights to review ODSP policies, procedures and training materials, with focus on whether they address communication-related disabilities and whether they contain an appropriate complaints procedure.
  • The consultant will provide a written report of its findings with recommendations to ensure compliance with the Human Rights Code.

Owner of pub fires human rights claimant after failing to investigate discrimination

2016 HRTO 1109  Faghihi v. Black Swan Pub and Grill

The Centre represented Mr. Faghihi, a sous chef at the Black Swan restaurant in Burlington.  He immediately notified the owner when his colleague told him to “go back to your country” followed by a racist slur.  Mr. Faghihi was fired after raising the discrimination and telling the owner he would do something about it.

The Tribunal found the owner did not conduct a proper investigation, “was not neutral in her investigation” (she testified Faghihi’s colleague was “loveable” and “liked by everyone”) and “would not agree or acknowledge, during the hearing, that his comment was discriminatory.” The Tribunal ordered:

$18,000 in general damages as compensation for the discrimination

$535.17 in lost wages

The restaurant to develop a harassment and discrimination policy and complaints mechanism

Human rights training

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Updates on IBI changes Services in Ontario 

We are sharing the message we sent to parents who contacted the Centre about the changes to the Ontario Autism program:

“Thank you for contacting the Centre about changes to the province’s Autism Intervention Program that took effect on April 1, 2016."

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Toronto landlord refuses to rent to Black woman

2016 HRTO 1012 Thomas v Haque

The Centre represented a Black woman who was trying to find an apartment in which to settle before the birth of her baby.  She arranged a viewing with the landlord and they exchanged several texts and phone calls.  As she was nearing the apartment, the landlord asked her where she was from.  When she told him she was originally from the Caribbean, the landlord suddenly said the apartment was unavailable.  The landlord claimed that at the very moment she was crossing the street he decided to sell the apartment building.  The Tribunal did not find his explanation credible. 

The Tribunal ordered:

$10,000 compensation for the discrimination

•The landlord to take human rights training, and, in particular to watch the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s five-part video called “Rental Housing and the [Human Rights]Code”

To read the full decision, visit Canlii