Accommodating scent sensitivities in the workplace

Time Published on October 15, 2012

Employers must accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship under the Ontario Human Rights Code. The accommodation of scent sensitivities arose in a recent decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, raising questions as to what is considered undue hardship when accommodating an employee with a sensitivity to scents.

Tag human rights

What mental capacity is required to sign a release?

Time Published on October 11, 2012

In a past Stringer Update, Releases Protect Employers from Human Rights Complaints, we emphasized the importance of having terminated employees sign a full and final release, as protection against a future human rights application. We highlighted the factors that the Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) will consider when determining whether a release will be enforceable, which include (1) the actual language of the release, and (2) other factors including duress, fraudulent misrepresentation and the applicant’s capacity to understand the terms of the release (click here to read our Stringer Update).

In two recent decisions, the Tribunal addresses the issue of the requisite mental capacity necessary in order for a release to be enforceable.

Tag employment law,  human rights

Human Rights Code Amended to Include Gender Identity

Time Published on July 31, 2012

The Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) was recently amended to add “gender identity or gender expression” as a ground of discrimination.  

Tag human rights

Forum Shopping a Growing Problem - Published in The Lawyers Weekly

Time Published on March 06, 2012

Jeremy Schwartz and Jessica Young recently published an article on forum shopping by disabled employees in the Lawyers Weekly: Labour & Employment Law Focus.

Tag human rights

Divisional Court provides Guidance as to What Constitutes a Prima Facie Case of Discrimination

Time Published on March 06, 2012

In a recent case, Peel Law Association v. Pieters, the Divisional Court overturned a decision of the Human Rights Tribunal finding that the complainants had not established a prima facie case of discrimination.

Tag human rights

The Latest on Forum Shopping: The Human Rights Tribunal is Considering Whether a WSIB Case Manager Decision is a “Proceeding”

Time Published on February 21, 2012

In Whitwell, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario will determine, for the first time since the SCC's landmark decision in Figliola, whether to defer to a decision by a WSIB Case Manager.

Tag human rights

Human Rights Tribunal Heeding Clear Direction from Supreme Court

Time Published on January 25, 2012

The Tribunal’s decisions following Figliola demonstrate that the Tribunal will not allow its processes to be used to effectively review decisions of other tribunals even if the other tribunal was not as expert on human rights issues or had a different adjudicative process. 

Tag human rights

SCC Weighs in on Costs Awards in Human Rights Complaints

Time Published on November 01, 2011

In a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Court dealt with the issue of awarding legal costs in a human rights complaint.  This decision provides a good reminder to employers and employees of the significance of legal costs in such proceedings.  Read about this decision and the practical implications in our Latest Update.

Tag human rights

A New Way to Deal with Frivolous Human Rights Complaints Quickly and Cost Effectively

Time Published on October 19, 2011

Among the amendments to Ontario’s human rights system in the past few years was the creation of a summary hearings procedure under Rule 19A of the Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal) Rules of Procedure.  This can save employers time and money as it provides a formal mechanism to dismiss frivolous claims early on in the process.

In summary hearing, there are two main issues that the Tribunal will examine: (1) whether the allegations can be reasonably considered to amount to a violation of the Code, or (2) whether there is a reasonable prospect that the applicant can prove, on a balance of probabilities, that his or her Code rights have been violated.

Tag human rights

Human Rights Tribunal finds undue hardship test met

Time Published on October 17, 2011

In a recent application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Tribunal found that an employer facing an economic downturn including mass lay-offs had met the test of undue hardship and did not have to accommodate an employee returning to work from disability leave.

The applicant was laid off on the eve of his return to work following a lengthy medical leave. At the time of the layoff, the company was experiencing a company-wide downsizing due to major financial trouble. The employer reduced its staff from 31 to 17 during this period. The length of service of the other terminated employees was comparable to the applicant.

Tag human rights

Human Rights Tribunal Discourages Unnecessary Naming of Personal Respondents in Applications

Time Published on September 07, 2011

In Sterling v Wendy’s Restaurant, the applicants (a former Wendy’s employee and his wife), named 14 personal respondents, who were members of management and fellow co-workers, in a human rights application alleging workplace discrimination.

The Tribunal removed all the personal respondents from the proceeding. The Tribunal held that the applicant had not established a compelling reason for the inclusion of the personal respondents. There was no issue as to the restaurant’s ability to respond to or remedy the alleged Human Rights Code infringement and it accepted being deemed liable for the conduct of its employees.

Tag human rights

Releases Protect Employers From Human Rights Complaints

Time Published on August 15, 2011

It is a good practice for employers to have employees sign a full and final release when their employment is terminated in order to avoid future law suits arising from the employment relationship. Recent cases of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario illustrate a trend in the jurisprudence toward dismissing human rights applications by employees who have signed a release. Read about these decisions and tips to make your release enforceable in our latest update

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Allison Taylor Speaks to Canadian @HRReporter About Managing Disabled Employees

Time Published on July 06, 2011

Allison Taylor Speaks to Canadian @HRReporter About Managing Disabled Employees

Tag human rights,  stringer llp announcements

Don't miss our April 14 Seminar

Time Published on April 11, 2011

Effective Management of Long-Term Disabled Employees: How to Navigate the Legal Minefield.  Please join us at the Delta Toronto Airport West:

Tag human rights


Time Published on September 14, 2010

The Boyce decision establishes that at least in some instances injured workers are free to attempt to concurrently pursue Human Rights Code remedies against their employer even if the WSIB has ruled in the employer’s favour with respect to whether work is suitable.

Tag human rights