Human Rights Legal Support Centre

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Human Rights Stories

Cases Decided at Hearing

Summarized below are a selection of Human Rights Tribunal decisions in cases where the Human Rights Legal Support Centre provided representation to the applicant at the hearing.

Many cases are resolved before a hearing takes place at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. See Settlements at Mediation for examples of how the HRLSC negotiated changes to business practices to prevent discrimination from happening to someone else.

Employment hearings

Racist and sexually motivated comments created poisoned work environment for restaurant worker

Bento v. Manito’s Rotisserie & Sandwich 2018 HRTO 203

Ms. Bento worked in a restaurant where she was harassed by her co-worker, the kitchen manager, who would often criticize her body, tell her she should lose weight, and comment that it was no wonder that her husband left her. The kitchen manager would also comment on the sexual attractiveness of other women in the restaurant and make racist remarks about other employees.

When she was hired, Ms. Bento was told that she would eventually get a raise, but her employer said she would have to go out with him to discuss it. She did not go out with him, and never received a raise. When she spoke to her employer about the manager’s discriminatory comments, her employer replied that she had ‘attitude.’ After the woman and her employer argued about this, she left the restaurant and was told she could not return to work.

The Tribunal found:

  • that “the continued harassing comments and behaviours affected the applicant as a woman and created a difficult workplace environment;” and
  • “this recurring treatment created a poisonous work environment, an environment where she knew to expect that in carrying out her job duties she must endure discriminatory conduct and comments.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • the employer to pay $20,000 to Ms. Bento in general damages plus lost wages for the discrimination she experienced; and
  • the co-worker who made the sexualized and racist comments was ordered to take human rights training.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii.

Tribunal orders $75,000 in compensation for workplace sexual harassment survivor

G.M. v. X Tattoo Parlour 2018 HRTO 201

G.M. was 15 years old when she was sexually harassed by her employer. The HRLSC represented her at a hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The identities of G.M. (the applicant), XTP (the employer and respondent) and F.G. (the owner and personal respondent) are anonymized in accordance with a publication ban. F.G. was a close family friend of the young woman’s parents, and agreed to supervise G.M. as an apprentice at his tattoo parlour. The harassment began with F.G. having sexual conversations with G.M. and escalated to sexual assault. F.G. also offered G.M. money and a free tattoo in exchange for sex.

The Tribunal found:

  • “the applicant’s vulnerability was marked”;
  • “these events had a profound and destructive impact on her”;
  • the individual respondent’s conduct was egregious; and
  • the respondent’s actions toward the applicant constituted serious violations of her rights.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • the employer to pay $75,000 in general damages to G.M. for the harm caused by the harassment and assault.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii.

Tribunal finds pregnancy a factor in employee’s termination

Puniani v Rakesh Majithia CA Professional Corporation, 2017 HRTO 1335

The HRLSC represented Neha Puniani, who was treated to an angry reaction from her employer when he found out she was pregnant. During the hearing, Puniani testified that the employer “began counting off the months on his fingers and demanded to know whether she had known that she was pregnant when he had interviewed her in August.” She testified that as he left her he said ‘we will see what needs to be done.’ Later that week she was fired.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $10,000 financial compensation for the discrimination (and an additional $2,000 from the personal respondent);
  • $2,269.23 in lost wages; and
  • $9,236 in lost benefits (Employment Insurance benefits)

To read the full decision, visit CanLii

Co-op student rejected for placement because of her sex

Browning v. Northend Body Shop Ltd., 2017 HRTO 1001

The HRLSC 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; and
  • the owner to take the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s on-line training “Human Rights 101.”

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Construction firm liable for toxic racism 

George v 1735475 Ontario Limited, 2017 HRTO 761

The HRLSC 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.”

The Tribunal found:

  • “it is not the proper role or function of this Tribunal to police workplace conversations about current events, even on difficult topics like the Ferguson shooting or subsequent rioting. Having said that, the comments I have found were made by Mr. Seto were discriminatory when he referred to ‘you people’ and ‘your race,’ meaning people of the same race as the applicant, being ‘stupid.’
  • that Mr. Seto personally experienced discrimination in the construction industry, commenting, “While that may reflect Mr. Seto’s own personal approach to being subjected to racial comments [letting it go like water off a duck’s back], it does not reflect the law of this province and is not consistent with Mr. Seto’s responsibilities as an employer.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • financial compensation of $20,000 for the discrimination

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Employee penalized for pregnancy recoups bonuses and lost wages

Trinh v CS Wind Canada Inc., 2017 HRTO 755

The HRLSC 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.”

The employer was found to have violated multiple sections of Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

The Tribunal found:

  • In addition to gender-based discrimination, Trinh had been subjected to comments based on her origins when she was called a “stupid Vietnamese woman.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • financial compensation of $25,000 for the discrimination;
  • $16,399.29 for bonuses and raises denied as a result of the discrimination;
  • $18,475.75 in lost wages;
  • the company to review and change its human rights policy and distribute the new policy to every employee; and
  • the company to train management and executive employees on the rights and obligations of the employer under the Human Rights Code.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

14-year old employee compensated by Tribunal for sexual and racial harassment

E.T. v Dress Code Express Inc., 2017 HRTO 595

E.T. was 14 years old when she was subjected to sexual harassment from her employer, including “comments about the applicant’s body, her virginity.” The HRLSC represented the young woman at a hearing before the Tribunal. The respondent failed to show at the hearing.

The Tribunal found:

  • E.T.’s employer had created a “poisoned work environment” in which she felt forced to give him a massage or lose her job; and
  • “warnings that she not engage in sexual activity with Black people” formed part of the “sexual harassment and racial harassment experienced by the applicant.”

The owner of Dress Code Express failed to appear at the hearing, despite repeated notices from the Tribunal.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $15,000 in general damages for the harm caused by the discrimination.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Tribunal finds toxic stew of sexism, racism and religion-bashing for Faema employee

Valle v. Faema Corporation 2000 Ltd., 2017 HRTO 588

The HRLSC represented Marisa Valle, who endured months of demeaning remarks against her religion and gender from her employer, the owner of Toronto-based coffee business Faema. Valle asked the owner, Mike Di Donato, to stop insulting her faith (he repeatedly referred to Mother Mary as a pig) and denigrating her status as a woman. He didn’t stop. Instead he asked Valle to dismiss all the racialized employees. When Valle refused, he fired her.

Marisa Valle filed a human rights claim against Di Donato and Faema. On May 26, 2017, the Human Rights Tribunal released a 46-page decision in Marisa Valle v Faema Corporation 2000 Ltd. and Mike Di Donato. Faema and Di Donato were found to be jointly and severally liable for the discrimination against Valle.

The Tribunal cited Valle’s “ongoing creed and gender based harassment… [her] refusal to comply with racist requests, her termination for refusing to fire racialized employees and the toxic environment she was forced to work in.”

Valle was ultimately terminated for her “refusal to follow orders” – namely her employer’s directive to fire all racialized employees. Di Donato testified at the Tribunal that it was “easier” to hire Italians and justified his comments by adding “When Italians see a cheese grater, they know what it is.”

Valle testified that “she had come to Canada to build her life and career and lost that opportunity.”

“Marisa refused to simply walk away,” commented Emily Shepard, Valle’s lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. “Marisa endured daily humiliation at work, a place where she hoped to shine. Attacks on her religion and gender were deeply disturbing to her as a woman of deep faith. As difficult as it was, she chose to send a clear statement to her employer by taking legal action.”

To read the full decision, visit Canlii.

Migrant worker compensated for disability-related firing

Ben Saad v. 1544982 Ontario Inc., 2017 HRTO 1

Ben Saad came to Canada from Tunisia to support his family. After an accident at work, the employer fired him for “attendance” problems. The HRLSC represented Mr. Ben Saad in his hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Tribunal found the employer fired Ben Saad because of “his attendance record, which I find was as a result of his injury and resultant disability.”

“He had a dream to bring his wife and children to Canada, which ended with his termination,” reads Vice Chair Kershaw’s decision. “He testified he saw racism and the worst disrespect in the last two years and was destroyed,” continued the decision.

The Tribunal found a clear connection between the injury and the firing. The Tribunal did not also conclude the discrimination was based on his country of origin, although the HRLSC argued this worker's particular vulnerability was inextricably tied to his status as a migrant worker.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $20,000 in financial compensation for the discrimination;
  • the respondent must hire a consultant with expertise in human rights to develop a human rights policy;
  • the company must provide a copy of it to all employees and the applicant within six months of the date of this Decision; and
  • the company’s owners, managers and employees in the human resources department must take on-line training human rights training.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

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

Faghihi v. Black Swan Pub and Grill, 2016 HRTO 1109

The HRLSC 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 that:

  • 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; and
  • human rights training.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Waitress takes back what is hers in successful sexual harassment claim

Granes v. 2389193 Ontario Inc., 2016 HRTO 821 (CanLII) 

Ms. Granes endured a night of sexual harassment in the form of comments and touching by the co-owner of the bar where she worked. The HRLSC represented Ms. Granes at her hearing.  She testified that she felt “disgusted that someone felt they had the right to touch her body for their own pleasure, without her consent”. In its decision, the Tribunal noted that Ms. Granes described the human rights process as a way of “taking back what is hers, making her own decisions about her body and letting go of her fears.” 

The HRLSC successfully argued that the failure of the police to pursue the sexual assault charges did not allow the employer to conclude the harassment had not happened.

The Tribunal afound that:

  • “the restaurant breached the Code by not addressing the matter appropriately and incurred liability by not conducting an adequate investigation or making any attempt to resolve the complaint.” 

The Tribunal ordered:

  •  $20,000 compensation for the discrimination;
  • $9,440 to the applicant for her wage losses;
  • the restaurant to adopt a written policy for dealing with complaints of harassment and discrimination in the workplace, including a complaint procedure; and
  • the restaurant shall provide mandatory training to its employees

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Tribunal supports employer’s position firing was non-discriminatory

Abrams v. Kupar, 2016 HRTO 1082

The HRLSC represented Ms. Abrams in her application alleging that her firing was connected to her pregnancy.  The Tribunal dismissed the application, finding that her termination was related to her performance, and not to the pregnancy:

[27]          I find that the respondent has provided a credible, non-discriminatory explanation for his actions. The applicant did not challenge the respondent’s or the team lead’s evidence that they were operating under very tight deadlines, with a very small team, and that the applicant was not able to assume the responsibilities of the manager position from the outset.

 [29]          It may be true that the applicant could have “grown into” the job. It is not, however, necessary for me to determine whether the respondent and his team lead were unfair in their assessment that the applicant lacked the technical and management skills necessary for the position. Fair or otherwise, I find that the evidence supports the respondent’s position that the decision was made for non-discriminatory reasons.

To read the full decision, visit CanLii

Tribunal dismisses application for lack of evidence firing tied to pregnancy

Ahmed v. T-Zone Health Inc., 2016 HRTO 1062

The HRLSC represented Ms. Ahmed in her application alleging that her employer fired her for reasons related to her pregnancy, religion and family status.  The Tribunal dismissed the application and found that there was insufficient evidence:

[204]        The financial documents filed into evidence by the respondent show that the studio where the applicant was the manager was consistently operating at a loss and its monthly sales were lower than average. Diane Atterbury says that in November 2013 the location was closed permanently due to poor sales.

[215]        What this means is that although it is possible the events around the applicant’s pregnancy may have been a factor in the termination decision, the evidence is insufficient to establish that it is more likely than not that it was. The applicant has failed to meet her evidentiary burden.

To read the full decision, visit CanLii

Tribunal makes rare Interim Order for sole support parent to continue day shift

Tomlinson v. Runnymede Healthcare Centre, 2015 HRTO 4 

The HRLSC represented a sole support parent of two young children (a two year-old and an infant) who had returned to work after maternity leave.  She asked her employer to schedule her on straight day shifts as an accommodation under the Human Rights Code, on the ground of family status. The employer agreed to a period of three months, then refused when she asked for an extension of time. 

The Tribunal rarely orders an interim remedy – making an order before the case has been fully heard. They did in this case because the HRLSC argued there were extremely serious consequences for the nurse and her family.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • the employer to continue to schedule her on straight day shifts; and
  • clarified that the “order is effective immediately and remains in effect until: the Application is concluded by way of settlement or adjudication; the applicant advises the respondent that she has obtained childcare that enables her to return to the rotating shift schedule; or, further order of the Tribunal.”

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

The parties resolved the issues without a hearing.

Waitress constructively dismissed after asking for pregnancy-related changes at work

Jaques v 1633092 Ontario Ltd. Tosh Steakhouse 2016 HRTO 403

Michelle Jaques worked at Tosh Steakhouse for three years.  After she became pregnant, on her doctor’s advice, Ms. Jaques advised her employer that it was medically inadvisable for her to go up and down the stairs to the second floor dining room.   

After initially agreeing to her request as per her doctor’s advice, the restaurant told Ms. Jaques that “it was not possible” to have her work only on the ground floor. In testimony, the employer referred to internal shift policies prohibiting the change. The HRLSC represented Ms. Jaques and argued before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that there were no written policies in place and that, even if such policies existed, adapting the policies to accommodate her medical restrictions would not be an “undue hardship” for the restaurant.

The Tribunal accepted the HRLSC’s arguments and found the employer had failed to take the necessary steps required under the Human Rights Code to accommodate her needs as a pregnant employee. Pregnancy is specifically included in the Code’s protection against discrimination based on sex.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $15,000 compensation for the discrimination;
  • $4,170.60 in lost wages; and
  • training for the directors and managers of the restaurant

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

For more information about accommodation under Ontario’s Human Rights Code see: Your Right to Accommodation on our web site.

Fired for complaining about discriminatory behaviour, an employee is awarded compensation by the Tribunal

Knox-Heldmann v. 1818224 Ontario Limited o/a Country Style Donut, 2015 HRTO 1376

The HRLSC successfully argued that an employee who had worked at a donut shop for five years had been subjected to discrimination on the basis of age, family status, marital status and disability. 

The Tribunal found that:

  • the employer had engaged in reprisal when they fired her after she complained. 

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $15,000 compensation for the discrimination; and
  • $22,180 in lost wages.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Rural siblings fired for taking religious holiday

H.T. v. ES Holdings Inc. o/a Country Herbs, 2015 HRTO 1067

Country Herbs fired a 16-year old woman scheduled to work on one particular Thursday – an important religious holiday for her.  Her 14-year old brother, who was not scheduled to work that shift, was also fired.

The Tribunal found that:

  • the “expectation that H.T. would work on the holiday in accordance with the attendance policy or be fired was discriminatory.”

The Tribunal ordered: 

  • $10,000 in general damages to the applicant for the discrimination;
  • $1,927 for the applicant's lost wages; and 
  • $7,500 and $6690 were awarded to the applicant's brother for lost wages.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII.

Landmark human rights ruling highlights abuse of migrant workers

O.P.T. v. Presteve Foods Ltd., 2015 HRTO 675

Justicia for Migrant Workers intervened in OPT v Presteve Foods Limited and was represented by the HRLSC. The two applicants (who originally numbered 39) were represented by Unifor.

The HRLSC hired expert Dr. Kerry Preibisch who provided evidence about the nature of migrant worker programs in Canada.  Based on Dr. Preibisch’s evidence, the Vice Chair commented on “the particular and special vulnerabilities of migrant workers in Ontario, especially in light of the closed work permit that requires them to be tied to one employer and so be under the constant threat and fear of losing their employment and being repatriated without reason and without any avenue for appeal or review.” 

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Employer ordered to develop a human rights policy after dismissing employee with disability

Emra v. Impression Bridal Inc., 2014 HRTO 1736

Kujtim Emra worked as an accounts manager for over two years while managing his anxiety. During that time he did have occasional absences related to his disability and was under the care of a doctor. 

Following a brief (2-day) disability-related absence in February of 2014 he was called into the office and terminated from his employment. The employer insisted he had quit and was not fired.

The Tribunal found:

  • “compelling evidence” in the form of emails, texts and testimony that Mr. Emra had been dismissed from his accounting position because of his disability.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $25,000 in general damages as financial compensation for the discrimination;

  • $33,000 for lost wages; and

  • the company to retain a human rights expert of its choosing to:
    - develop new human rights policies
    - distribute the new policy to all of its employees; and
    - train all of its employees with respect to the new human rights policy, the Code and the duty to accommodate.

To read the full decision visit CanLii

Posed as a lay-off, Tribunal finds that a landscaper was terminated due to disability and sexual orientation

Wesley v. 2252466 Ontario Inc. o/a The Grounds Guys, 2014 HRTO 1591

The HRLSC represented Darryl Wesley, an Indigenous man who is gay and deaf. He was working as a landscaper in North Bay, Ontario. Mr. Wesley had arrived for his first day of training with an interpreter, but the supervisor sent the interpreter home. His supervisor and fellow employees were becoming impatient about the need to use notes to communicate with Mr. Wesley. After only about six weeks, Mr. Wesley was terminated by his employer and told that he was part of a general lay-off. However, when Mr. Wesley walked by the job site, the rest of his colleagues were all still working. 

The company and its representatives did not appear at the hearing. While the Tribunal awarded $18,000 for the disability-related termination and $7,500 for the poisoned environment created by remarks about his sexual orientation, the ancestry portions of his human rights application were dismissed.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $25,500 in general damages as financial compensation for the discrimination;
  • $8,200 for lost wages;
  • the employer must take human rights training; and
  • provide a letter of reference.

Unfortunately, the company ceased operating and the Personal Respondent (the supervisor) declared bankruptcy.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII.

Lugonia v. Arista Homes, 2014 HRTO 1531

The HRLSC represented Amanda Lugonia, who quit her job to accept a maternity-leave contract with Arista Homes. After a two-stage interview process, Ms. Lugonia attended a third meeting and was offered the job. On her third shift she revealed to the woman whose position she would be filling that she had just found out she was pregnant. When she arrived for her fourth shift, she was terminated.

The Tribunal found that:

  • Ms. Lugonia’s evidence was more credible; and
  • that “there were absolutely no signs of any dissatisfaction on the respondent’s part as of the end of the applicant’s third shift and suddenly she was terminated at the beginning of her fourth shift.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $15,000 in general damages as financial compensation for the discrimination;
  • the company to retain a human rights expert to develop and implement a comprehensive human rights policy;
  • the company must provide all current and future employees with copies of the new policy; and
  • to deliver the new policy within six months to Ms. Lugonia’s lawyer at the HRLSC.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII.

Rollick v. 1526597 Ontario Inc. o/a Tim Horton’s Store No. 2533, 2014 HRTO 337

Following a non-workplace related injury, a cashier at a coffee shop was cleared to return to work with modified hours and duties. When she called the franchise owner to check on the details of her return to work, she was fired over the telephone after telling him about her physical restrictions. The woman then phoned the head office and they arranged to have her reinstated to her position.    A few weeks after she started back at the job, the franchise owner pulled her into the office saying he was tired of accommodating her disability and fired her again. As she was 44 hours short of the qualifying period she was also denied Employment Insurance benefits.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $15,000 financial compensation for the discrimination;
  • $27,378 in lost wages from the date of her termination to the date she obtained new employment.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

J.D. v. The Ultimate Cut Unisex, 2014 HRTO 956

Three women worked as receptionists at a hair salon until ongoing sexual harassment left them unable to continue.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found the salon owner “made the applicants feel uncomfortable and constantly nervous about how far he might try to go with his sexual harassment, solicitations and advances. When he was in the salon, they were on tenterhooks.”

The Tribunal also found the women worked “until it became so intolerable that they understandably quit. They quit because of his unwelcome, sexual behaviour and because there was no protection from him.”

The Tribunal ordered the hair salon to pay the three applicants:

  • over $100,000 financial compensation for the discrimination and harassment;
  • $40,000 in lost wages.

To read the full decision visit CanLii

Islam v. Big Inc., 2013 HRTO 2009

Abdul Malik, Mohammed Islam and Arif Hossain were variously reprimanded for speaking Bengali, forced to break their religious tenets and then lost their jobs at a Toronto restaurant after asserting their right to be free from discrimination.

The three men practice the Muslim faith. The Centre represented them at a hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal. After the hearing, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario realized a decision finding that the employees had been subjected to racist remarks and threats that they would be replaced with white workers. The decision found that all of the men "suffered discrimination during their employment in the workplace on the basis of creed, colour, ancestry, place of origin and ethnic origin."

The Tribunal found the restaurant owners had retaliated against the three men after they questioned how they were treated, resulting in the loss of their employment.

The Tribunal ordered the restaurant owners to:

  • Pay $26,653 in lost wages for all three men, less statutory deductions;
  • Pay $71,000 as financial compensation for the three men for violation of their inherent right to be free from discrimination.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

C.U. v. Blencowe, 2013 HRTO 1667

The HRLSC represented a woman who had been harassed at her workplace, a resort in Northern Ontario. A settlement had already been reached with the corporate respondent the weekend before the hearing.

This Tribunal decision then deals only with the sexual harassment from the personal respondent. He pled guilty to criminal harassment and indecent exposure. The Tribunal accepted those findings of fact so our client only had to testify about the harassment that was not captured by the criminal charges.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $30,000 financial compensation for the discrimination and harassment.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Employer ordered to develop sexual harassment policy following Tribunal proceeding

G.G. v. Image Printing and Signs, 2012 HRTO 1197

The HRLSC represented an employee who had been sexually harassed and assaulted by her employer.

The Tribunal found that:

  • the employer had violated the applicant’s rights to be free from sexual harassment and solicitation.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $18,000 financial compensation for the discrimination and harassment;
  • $11,930 for lost wages; and
  • implementation of a sexual harassment policy within 90 days.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Fired when she returned from medical leave, factory worker awarded compensation due to discrimination

Russell v. Indeka Imports, 2012 HRTO 926

The HRLSC represented a long-term factory worker who was fired immediately upon return from a medical leave. At the hearing, the employer claimed that the worker was fired because her performance was slow, but the evidence showed that none of her colleagues were let go.

The Tribunal found that:

  • the evidence supported an inference that the applicant’s medical leave was a factor in the decision to select her as the employee who would be laid-off.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $15,000 financial compensation for the discrimination;
  • payment of lost benefits; and
  • human rights training for the company's managers and supervisors within 60 days.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Read more Employment Hearings

Services hearings

Restaurant ordered to pay $10,000 for racially profiling customer

Wickham v. Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant 2018 HRTO 500

Emile Wickham and three of his friends went to dine at Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant. Shortly after being seated, their server told them they would have to pay before being served their meals. When asked why, the server said it was the restaurant’s policy. Emile and his friends were the only Black patrons in the restaurant at that time.

When Emile asked other customers whether they had to pre-pay for their meals, they said they had not. The server confirmed that no one else had been asked to pre-pay, but offered no explanation for this and simply asked Emile if he wanted his money back.

The Tribunal found:

  • “the applicant was subjected to a disadvantage or adverse treatment, and that his race was a factor”; and
  • “the respondent’s employees’ conduct suggests that their treatment of the applicant was motivated by a stereotype that Black persons are criminal, or deviant.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • the restaurant to pay $10,000 in general damages, and
  • to post the Ontario Human Rights Code card in a prominent place on their premises.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii.

Durham Police “tailored testimony” not credible: Racial profiling upheld

Briggs v. Durham Regional Police Services, 2015 HRTO 1712

Joseph Briggs went to buy a sandwich. What happened next was the subject of a five-day hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In the end, Vice Chair Alison Renton concluded Briggs was the target of racial profiling by Durham Regional Police Services when they ran his license plate in the parking lot of a restaurant and then followed him one hour later.    

“Objectively, I find that the racial profiling and discrimination … experienced, which included being racially profiled by having his license plate checked because he was black, and ‘trying to catch him’ is a serious violation of the [Human Rights] Code. The applicant went out at 1:30 a.m. to purchase a sandwich from a 24-hour restaurant, a relatively simple exercise,” read Vice Chair Renton’s 73-page decision.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii.

Employee “influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by the stereotype that Black people are thieves”

McCarthy v. Kenny Tan Pharmacy Inc., 2015 HRTO 1303

The Tribunal found that a woman was racially profiled by staff at her local Shoppers Drug Mart store when accused of shoplifting and searched.  A small measure of justice has been achieved and we hope retail managers and their security personnel take note,” said Beth Walden, McCarthy’s lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

To read the full decision, CanLII.

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. 

In the first case, on behalf of Mr. DeLottinville, the Court upheld the right to pursue a discrimination claim against a police officer at the Human Rights Tribunal, notwithstanding a prior discipline complaint under the Police Services Act.  The court refused to reject the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal in Claybourn v Toronto Police, allowing the human rights claim to proceed against the police. 

The second case, K.M. v Kodama, arose out of Human Rights Tribunal application against a doctor who allegedly subjected a transgender patient to discriminatory treatment.  The Centre successfully argued that the application should be allowed to proceed before the Tribunal despite a prior discipline complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.  

Update: Gender identity application was resolved October 27th 2015 at the HRTO.

Media release

Divisional Court Decision

Smith v. Toronto Police Services Board, 2013 HRTO 2103

The applicant was outside an LCBO store in Toronto when he was stopped by a police officer, questioned, handcuffed and searched. He felt he was singled out and subjected to unnecessary aggressive treatment because of his race.

The officer claimed that the applicant matched the initial description of a suspect in a robbery (a “tall Black man wearing a hoodie”) that had taken place a few minutes earlier at a convenience store several kilometres away.  The applicant was later released when a further description of the robbery suspect was issued.

The applicant argued that the initial description of the suspect was so general that the officer could only have been relying on its reference to a “Black male” when he stopped the applicant.  The Centre argued that race was the predominant reason the applicant was stopped and this constituted racial profiling.

The Tribunal decided that the officer had reasonable grounds for stopping the applicant and did not arbitrarily choose to stop him because he was Black.

The Application was dismissed.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Claybourn v. Toronto Police Services Board (interim decision)

The Tribunal ruled on the question of whether a Police Services Act investigation absolving officers of wrongdoing would prevent an individual from bringing a subsequent human rights case. They held that that a legal case alleging discrimination (e.g. profiling) should not be dismissed simply because the person had already had an OIPRD complaint dismissed.

In the ruling, a three-person panel ruled that it would be unfair to dismiss a human rights application where the same allegations had been dismissed in a police complaint to the OIPRD.

In its decision, the Tribunal panel considered recent Supreme Court cases on the issue of how to address situations where the same issues have been addressed in a different forum.  The Tribunal held that given that given the differences between a human rights application and a police disciplinary proceeding, it would be unfair for one to preclude the other, for the following reasons:

  1. The applicant cannot receive any remedy under the police complaint process; the only possible outcome if police misconduct is found to have occurred is discipline for the officer;
  2. The parties to a police complaint would not reasonably expect that a police complaint would preclude a human rights application;
  3. The police complaint process is an investigation process ultimately controlled by the Chief of Police.  Permitting the police complaint process to pre-empt a human rights application would allow a chief of police “to become the judge of his own case.”

A hearing on the merits has yet to proceed.

Tour company ordered to compensate woman with disabilities following discriminatory statement

Austen v. Senior Tours Canada Inc., 2013 HRTO 1417

A woman with multiple disabilities tried to book a trip with a tour company and had followed up to make several requests for accommodation. They wrote her a letter in which they stated that their passengers had to be in “good physical condition” and declined further services.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $5,000 financial compensation for the discrimination and harassment.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Employment agency ordered to create human rights policy to accommodate people with disabilities

Del Grande v. 2057161 Ontario Inc., 2013 HRTO 1859

The HRLSC represented a man with very low vision who had approached an employment agency for help finding a job. The agency assured him they could help him with his search, but then they consistently failed to provide him with accommodation, for instance they did not give him documents that were accessible. Although they initially responded to the human rights application they failed to show for the hearing.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $3,995 in special damages (the amount he paid the agency);
  • $5,000 financial compensation for the discrimination and harassment;
  • The Agency to hire a human rights expert to develop a human rights policy with a section on accommodation of persons with disabilities;
  • All present and future employees to take the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights 101 on-line course; and
  • Posting of a Human Rights Code card in the office

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Frankson v. Workplace safety and Insurance Board, 2011 HRTO 2107

Mr. Frankson alleged the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (the WSIB) discriminated against him on the ground of disability when it changed his Labour Market Re-Entry (LMR) program because of his learning disability. He was moved from a 3 year LMR program to a 5 week program because they refused to provide accommodation for his learning disability in the original program.

The Tribunal found that the WSIB decisions regarding benefits are “services” under the Code and that WSIB decision makers are not covered by the doctrine of judicial immunity. The WSIB’s exclusive jurisdiction to determine the suitability, content and implementation of a Labour market Re-entry (LMR) program plan was found not to deprive the Tribunal of its jurisdiction to determine whether the WSIB had failed to take into account the accommodation of the Applicant’s disability.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $5,000 to the Applicant as compensation for loss of the right to be free from discrimination; and
  • the WSIB to amend its Labour Market Re-entry policy to accommodate disabilities, including non-physical disabilities such as a learning disability.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Seberras v. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, 2012 HRTO 115

(intervention only)

The HRLSC was invited by the Tribunal to intervene in a leading case to determine whether the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is in fact a service. The Tribunal assigned a three-person panel. The Applicant was challenging a WSIB policy that denied him benefits because of the nature of his disability – chronic stress. The WSIB challenged the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to hear the application.

The Tribunal determined that it had jurisdiction to hear the application and to determine if the WSIB policy was discriminatory. It found that it can hear and decide a claim that a statutory benefits scheme had denied benefits on a discriminatory basis, even if the denial is contained in a decision of the other statutory body. The provision of benefits was held to be a “service” under the Code.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

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Housing hearings

Landlord refused to accommodate tenants’ religion-based request for 5 minutes notice

Madkour v. Alabi, 2017 HRTO 436

The HRLSC represented tenants Walid Madkour and Heba Ismail. They had given notice to their landlord that they were moving out and had a basic request: additional notice before prospective tenants entered their home. They wanted to ensure that their prayer times were not interrupted and that Ms. Ismail could be modestly dressed. The Tribunal found that “there was no evidence showing that the additional five-minute notice requested by the applicants would have had any impact whatsoever on the respondent’s ability to rent the apartment.”

The landlord was also found to have harassed the tenants by making “the comment ‘welcome to Ontario Canada’, the making of loud pounding noises outside the applicants’ door shortly after making that comment, and the respondent’s refusal to remove his shoes when entering the applicants’ prayer space.”

The Tribunal found that:

  • the landlord’s “evidence was inconsistent with the documentary evidence on key points"; and
  • "the respondent’s inclination to tailor his evidence in an attempt to justify his actions in this case."

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $6,000 to each tenant as compensation for the discrimination;
  • the landlord to confirm that he had completed training on human rights and housing; and
  • the landlord to review the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Human Rights and Rental Housing.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Landlord’s sexist treatment of tenant made her “personal life a misery”

Gricken v Andriano, 2017 HRTO 698

The HRLSC represented tenant Janice Gricken in her human rights application against her landlord. The landlord was found to have violated a separate section of the Human Rights Code, reprisal, by “threatening to evict her and giving her groundless eviction notices, refusing to maintain her apartment in a state of repair, and vandalizing her bike.”

The Tribunal found that:

  • “the respondent abused his position as a landlord by making the applicant’s personal life a misery"; and
  • "the landlord made offensive gender-based comments and sexually demeaning gestures that denigrated her as a woman, and women in general.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $20,000 in general damages as financial compensation for the discrimination;
  • training for the landlord in human rights principles; and
  • the landlord to adopt a written policy for the building that reflects the responsibilities of landlords, agents of the landlords or occupants of buildings under the Human Rights Code, including a complaint mechanism.

To read the full decision, visit Canli

Racist landlord denies woman an available apartment

Thomas v Haque, 2016 HRTO 1012

The HRLSC 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; and
  • 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

Sharpe v. Cheuk, 2015 HRTO 10

The HRLSC successfully argued the Belleville landlord discriminated against Mr. Sharpe on the basis of receipt of social assistance. 

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $10,000 for the discrimination; and
  • $1,200 for loss of property and moving expenses.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

DiSalvo v. Halton Condominium Corporation No. 186, 2009 HRTO 2120

Mr. DiSalvo required a ramp for the front door of his condominium townhouse. The Condominium Corporation refused to pay for the ramp, insisting that Mr. DiSalvo bear the full costs associated with it.

The Tribunal found that “even where the Applicant is the only individual benefiting from the accommodation measure, unless undue hardship is established, the Code requires that the costs of the reasonable accommodation be borne by the condominium corporation … I find that by insisting on a position that was wrong, at law, by failing to consider alternatives, and by creating a barrier to substantive discussions, the Respondent (Halton Condominium Corporation No. 186) has also failed to meet its procedural duty to accommodate the Applicant (Mr. DiSalvo).”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $12,000 to the Applicant in respect of compensation for loss of the right to be free from discrimination;
  • the purchase, installation and maintenance of a ramp at the front entrance of the townhouse; and
  • a human rights policy and a complaint mechanism to be developed

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Dixon v. 930187 Ontario, 2010 HRTO 256


Mr. Dixon uses a wheelchair. He and his wife lived in a building that was not accessible, making it impossible for him to travel independently. The Dixons asked the landlord to modify the building entrances and repeatedly asked for a transfer to a ground floor apartment because the elevators were unreliable.

The Tribunal found that “(The landlord) appeared to take the position that he was entitled to substitute his judgement for that of the Dixons as to what they needed and where and how they should live … Both persons with disabilities and persons on social assistance tend to be subjected to harmful stereotyping as well as societal barriers that have an effect on their dignity.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $10,000 to the Applicant for compensation for loss of the right to be free from discrimination
  • Reduction of the Applicant’s rent by $136.61 per month until the Respondent has offered the Applicant a one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of the building
  • $2595.59 to the Applicant for loss occasioned to date by its refusal to allow a transfer within the building
  • The Respondent to offer the next available apartment on the first floor to the Applicant
  • The Respondent to ensure that the front and back doors and entryways of the apartment building are accessible to people in wheelchairs by six months from the date of the order, including providing a ramp or grading and installing electronic door opening devices
  • The Respondent to retain an expert on human rights issues within three months of the order, and to undertake an appropriate training course for its managerial staff on anti-discrimination practices relevant to tenants

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

Jakobek v. Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1626, 2011 HRTO 1901


Mr. Jakobek’s condominium refused to allow him to park his scooter in one of the parking spots he owns. The condominium also failed to accommodate his disability by refusing to install an automatic door opener on the doors located between the parking garage and the elevators. Although the condominium later allowed Mr. Jakobek (the Applicant) to park his scooter in his parking spot and eventually installed door openers two years after his request, the Tribunal found the condominium’s responses “untimely.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • the Condominium to make a donation in the amount of $5,000 to the March of Dimes (at the Applicant’s request);
  • wnsure that the Condominium’s by-laws, by amendment, specifically permit that mobility assistive devices can be parked in the parking garage; and
  • wnsure that management complete the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s eLearning module “Human Rights 101,” and review the OHRC’s “Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate”

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

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Contracts hearings

Longboat v 708179 Ontario Inc. and Dennis Davison, 2012 HRTO 2170

Paula Longboat had fallen behind on the leasing payments for her van. She received a letter from the leasing company that contained the following:

"I didn’t want to lease you a vehicle, but when you promised repeatedly to pay me on time, I let you have the van. Now this is how you show your gratitude, by lying, cheating and stealing from me. Typical Indian."

The HRLSC represented Ms. Longboat at her hearing.

The Tribunal found that:

  • "the message underlying the respondents’ comment was that Aboriginal people lie, cheat and steal; and
  • "The remark evokes the notion that people of Aboriginal ancestry are untrustworthy and not legitimate members of Canadian society because they perpetrate fraud in order to get what they want."

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $15,000 financial compensation for the discrimination.

To read the full decision, visit CanLII

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