Workplace Wire

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“Not rationally supported”: Human Rights Tribunal decision overturned


The Human Rights Tribunal in Ontario was set up as a direct access model in 2008, allowing employees to bring an Application directly to the Tribunal and obtain a hearing. One issue that has been immensely frustrating for employers has been the ability of employees to make accusations of discrimination with little supporting evidence other than the employee’s own sense that the way they have been treated relates to race, religion, or some other prohibited ground of discrimination.

Although there is no true right of appeal of Human Rights Tribunal decisions, the decisions are subject to review by the Divisional Court in Ontario, and can be overturned where they are not reasonable. In some cases, the Divisional Court has strongly criticized the Tribunal for making findings of discrimination based on inferences which were not supported by any evidence (see, for example, the case of Audmax Inc.).

In another decision released just this week, the Court again criticized the Human Rights Tribunal for the same problem. Although the Tribunal found that two Toronto lawyers had been racially profiled when they were asked for identification by a law librarian at the Brampton courthouse, the Divisional Court could not find any evidence that the request had been racially motivated. The three judge panel concluded that the finding of discrimination was not rationally supported.

The decision hasn’t yet been made public, but we will post a copy when it becomes available. An article about the decision is available here. While it doesn’t involve an employment relationship, it will be of assistance to all employers defending a human rights application.

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