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.
We thank Pat Case for his seven years as Chair of the Centre. He will be deeply missed and we wish him much success in his new role as Chief Equity Officer/Assistant Deputy Minister of the newly formed Education Equity Secretariat at the Ministry of Education. Patrick Nadjiwan has been appointed Interim Chair of the HRLSC Board. Mary Gusella continues her cross-appointment to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and we welcome Karen Drake, who has been cross-appointed to our Board from the Commission.
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.
Steps to Justice
Steps to Justice, led by CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario) gives comprehensive online information on common legal problems that people experience in family, housing, employment and other areas of law.
What's new at the Centre?
Co-op student rejected for placement because of her sex
Browning v. Northend Body Shop Ltd., 2017 HRTO 1001
The Centre represented Natalie Browning, a high school student who was excited about her co-op placement at an auto body shop. Her teacher had recommended the business because two other students had done their co-op placements there.
At the hearing, Browning testified the owner “asked her if she really wanted to get her hands dirty because his shop was dirty. She told him she did. She testified she does not think a male candidate would have been asked such questions.” The owner knew she was there to get hands-on work experience with cars, yet he first offered her filing work and then told her she could answer phones. When she declined, the interview was over.
The brief interview left Browning shaken. She testified that “she was upset, shaken up, caught off guard and embarrassed. She had been excited about the co-op, but then decided not to pursue this trade.”
The Tribunal ordered:
- Financial compensation of $7,000 for the discrimination
- The owner to take the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s on-line training “Human Rights 101”
To read the full decision, visit Canlii
Landlord regrets family believed they were going to be excluded because they have a child
A human rights matter was settled in August involving allegations that the Respondent denied housing to a family with a child.
David Wood [the landlord] regrets that the family believed they were going to be excluded because they have a child. He realizes that to assume children automatically reduce the quality of living for other tenants is not only false but treats those looking for housing as less than human and such actions can lead to homelessness as a result.
“The law is clear – it is discriminatory to refuse housing to tenants based on family status,” said David Wood. “I have committed to understanding the obligations under the Human Rights Code of Ontario”.
Cycling Canada, Ontario Cycling Association, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Canadian athlete Kristen Worley settle human rights application to promote inclusive sporting environments
Kristen Worley has settled her human rights application with Cycling Canada, the Ontario Cycling Association and Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Worley sought changes to the policies, guidelines, rules and processes surrounding XY female athletes, gender verification and therapeutic use of required hormones that are captured by anti-doping regulations.
“Today, I am satisfied that the sport of Cycling in Canada and internationally have committed to help advocate for issues facing XY female athletes,” said Worley. “My vision encourages sport and the Olympic Movement to do what it is supposed to do best: harmonizing and celebrating through sport the magic and enormity of our human diversity.”
As a result of the settlement, Cycling Canada and the Ontario Cycling Association have agreed to:
- Review and revise internal policies to embrace human rights;
- Launch awareness and education related to diversity of participants;
- Advocate for the establishment of standards and guidelines related to XY female athletes based in objective scientific research;
- Advocate for individualized Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) conducted by medical personnel with subject-matter expertise;
- Solicit CCES, COC, Sport Canada, Commonwealth Games Federation and the Canadian Minister of Sport to advance this advocacy message to international bodies such as WADA and the IOC.
Construction firm liable for toxic racism
2017 HRTO 761 George v 1735475 Ontario Limited
The Centre represented Nathan George in his human rights application against his employer Stan Seto. The Tribunal found that Seto’s comments to George were “egregious” and that George was subjected to “persistent and repeated” racist comments, including calling him a “worthless n---er.”
Employee penalized for pregnancy recoups bonuses and lost wages
2017 HRTO 755 Trinh v CS Wind Canada Inc.
The Centre represented Tin Trinh in her human rights application based on place of origin and sex against her employer. Before going on leave, Trinh was working seven days a week from 3 or 4am to 8pm. When she became pregnant she advised her employer she would need to reduce her hours. He responded that she would be fired. She continued to work long hours until pregnancy-related complications forced her to take disability-related leave. When she returned from maternity leave her employer told her: “If you cannot give me a perfect plan you need to stay home with your son.”
Landlord’s sexist treatment of tenant made her “personal life a misery”
2017 HRTO 698 Gricken v Andriano
The Centre represented tenant Janice Gricken in her human rights application against her landlord. The Tribunal found that “the respondent abused his position as a landlord by making the applicant’s personal life a misery. He regularly made offensive gender-based comments and sexually demeaning gestures that denigrated her as a woman, and women in general.”