The Ontario Human Rights Code has codified many protections for employees in the workplace. Discrimination and/or unfair treatment that breaches a protected ground is capable of correction and in some cases damages. Treatment of employees is complex in this realm. Claims for breaches of the Code often include analogous grounds to the ones expressed within the Code. For example, the ground of ‘sex’ is protected from discrimination, but things like maternity leave, family status protections, childcare requirements, how those interact with returning to work, and accommodation by employers are also protected.
Common breaches are usually related to employees with a disability and/or medical condition, and the employer does not accommodate or terminates the employee. Sometimes this is complicated by an income disability contract of insurance or collateral benefits insurance which are lost when termination occurs, despite their applicability to an injured employee. Employers sometimes terminate employees before they can make a claim under the disability contract to avoid paying the premiums increase. On occasion, employers forget to complete applications for disability insurance leaving employees uncovered and exposed in the event of a disability and/or medical condition that would trigger the payments under the policy. In that scenario, the employer could be found to step into the shoes of the disability insurer.
The Social Justice Tribunals of Ontario (SJTO) operates several administrative tribunals, of which the Human Rights Tribunal is part of. This is the most obvious forum to commence proceedings against an employer for their conduct. Win or lose, this avenue will not result in adverse costs awarded against an aggrieved employee. Sometimes, there are also larger employment standards issues or employment law issues that require attention. In these instances, a joint claim may be brought at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for both the employment law issues and the human rights issues, together. This forum is capable of awarding costs and is sometimes the preferred avenue for bringing a claim.
There exists a natural imbalance of bargaining power between employees and employers. Employees seldom have any ability to negotiate for their benefit. They are often required to perform, as requested by employers, or face termination. By virtue of that, employers often abuse the imbalance of power to their benefit. Should employees complain or attempt to strike a balance, they face reprimand and termination. The Courts are well versed with these matters and damages have broadened in recent years to increase the risk to employers that do not adhere to the Code.
Lemieux Litigation is well versed in complex employment matters. Whether it is sensitive in nature and requires discretion and tactful advancement, such as sexual assault, harassment, or breaches of the Code due to disability accommodation or return to work from maternity leave, rest assured that we are very good at what we do and how we litigate these important matters. The most important thing to do is contact us. Engaging with your employer after a breach can have detrimental consequences to your matter. Employers often hire human resources professionals or in-house counsel to inoculate breaches with employees even before they have a chance to seek outside counsel. This is a very common occurrence. Do not fall victim to abuse and breaches of the Code, and do not allow your employer to coerce your rights away.
Should you have any interest in learning more about the Ontario Human Rights Code and its protective measures, you can visit their website at: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/hrto/.
Alternatively, you can contact the experienced lawyers at Lemieux Litigation with offices in Barrie, Ontario for a better understanding of your case and to know your next steps. We offer certified specialist advice, with a proven track record of success at Trial. We serve clients in all of Simcoe County including Barrie, Innisfil, Orillia, Midland, and Alliston, as well as Bradford, Newmarket, Collingwood, and surrounding areas.
At Lemieux Litigation we will not ask for any upfront fees. You only pay us if we win your case. ‘No win, no pay lawyers.’