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Why Individuals Need a Lawyer for Human Rights Complaints in Ontario

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, you have a right to be free from being discriminated against in 5 protected social areas. Those areas are: 

Accommodation (housing)



Goods, services and facilities

Membership in unions, trade or professional associations.

Discrimination is based on different protected grounds, that are against the law under the Code. 

Those protected grounds are: 


Ancestry, colour, race


Ethnic origin

Place of origin



Family status

Marital status (including single status)

Gender identity, gender expression

Receipt of public assistance (in housing only)

Record of offences (in employment only)

Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)

Sexual orientation.

Under the Code, your rights are not violated unless discrimination occurs in one of those social areas based on one or more protected grounds.

For example, the Code would not apply to you if you were treated differently than others at work due to a personality conflict. The Code would also not apply if the discriminatory remark was made by a stranger on a street, as that does not pertain to a specific social area. That being said, you have a right to be free from discrimination when you go to stores, restaurants, bars, schools, hospitals, when you receive health services, and public places, such as recreational centres, and when you are obtaining services and programs provided by various governments in Ontario.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is a specialty tribunal which is set up to mediate and decide human rights cases. However, they are not the only tribunal or administrative body that can decide Human Rights Code issues. Different levels of courts can also decide human rights issues. You have a choice generally speaking, to choose which legal process to use to pursue your human rights case. Sometimes, you can choose more than one legal route or forum. For example, if you are an unionized employee who has experienced breach of human rights or discrimination, you could speak to your union about filing a grievance. Other employment issues may also be covered under the Employment Standards Act. The Ministry of Labour could look into such complaints. Various professionals such as doctors or nurses also have regulatory colleges which govern their conduct and they also have an internal complaints procedure. Other times, there may be criminal charges that are warranted, such as in cases of sexual harassment or sexual violence.

Human rights is a complicated area of law. You have to be careful to weigh the pros and cons when choosing a forum to proceed with your case. Sometimes but not all the time, you can proceed in more than one forum, but there are numerous rules that govern this. You should speak to a lawyer if you feel that you have been discriminated against or if there have been breaches to your human rights. A lawyer can help you figure out which avenue to pursue this matter, based on what you wish to accomplish. A lawyer can help you figure out what evidence you will need to proceed with your claim, explain to you how strong your claim is, how long the process takes, as well as the costs associated with proceeding with a claim.

Why Businesses Need a Lawyer for Human Rights Complaints in Ontario

In Ontario, upholding human rights is a fundamental aspect of the legal framework governing businesses and organizations. When a human rights complaint is brought against a business, it can have serious implications for its reputation, operations, and legal standing. In such situations, seeking the assistance of a lawyer is crucial to navigate the complexities of human rights law and protect the interests of the business. In this article, we'll explore why businesses in Ontario need a lawyer if a human rights complaint has been brought against them.

1. Understanding Human Rights Legislation:

Human rights legislation in Ontario prohibits discrimination and harassment based on various grounds, including race, gender, age, disability, and sexual orientation. Navigating the nuances of human rights law requires specialized knowledge and expertise, which a lawyer can provide. A lawyer can assess the allegations made in the complaint and advise the business on its rights, obligations, and potential liabilities under the relevant legislation.

2. Ensuring Compliance with Legal Requirements:

Businesses must comply with legal requirements related to human rights in their policies, practices, and workplace culture. A lawyer can review the business's policies and procedures to ensure compliance with human rights legislation and recommend any necessary changes or updates. By proactively addressing compliance issues, businesses can mitigate the risk of future human rights complaints.

3. Investigating Complaints and Responding Effectively:

When a human rights complaint is filed against a business, it is essential to conduct a thorough investigation to gather facts and evidence relevant to the allegations. A lawyer can oversee the investigation process, interview witnesses, and analyze documentation to assess the merits of the complaint. Based on the findings, the lawyer can formulate an effective response strategy to address the allegations and defend the business's interests.

4. Representing the Business in Mediation or Hearings:

In many cases, human rights complaints are resolved through mediation or adjudication before human rights tribunals or courts. A lawyer can represent the business in mediation sessions or hearings, presenting evidence, and legal arguments to support the business's position. By having legal representation, businesses can ensure that their rights are protected and that they have a strong advocate to present their case effectively.

5. Negotiating Settlements and Resolving Disputes:

In some instances, it may be in the business's best interest to settle a human rights complaint outside of formal adjudication. A lawyer can negotiate settlement terms on behalf of the business, seeking to resolve the dispute in a manner that is fair and reasonable while minimizing reputational and financial risks. With the guidance of a lawyer, businesses can explore settlement options and achieve outcomes that align with their objectives.

6. Appealing Adverse Decisions:

If a human rights tribunal or court issues an adverse decision against the business, the business may have the right to appeal the decision to a higher court. A lawyer can assess the grounds for appeal and represent the business in appellate proceedings, seeking to overturn or modify the decision. By pursuing an appeal, businesses can seek a favorable resolution and protect their rights under the law.

In conclusion, human rights complaints can pose significant challenges for businesses in Ontario, impacting their reputation, operations, and legal standing. By engaging the services of a lawyer experienced in human rights law, businesses can navigate the complexities of the legal process, protect their interests, and achieve favorable outcomes. Whether it's ensuring compliance with legal requirements, responding effectively to complaints, or advocating for the business's rights in mediation or court proceedings, a lawyer plays a vital role in safeguarding the interests of businesses facing human rights complaints in Ontario.

Ready to get started?  Key Legal has Ontario Human Rights Lawyers ready to help you either through Zoom meetings or by telephone.  You can either book an appointment or request a lawyer on-demand.  Just use our booking page or our chat feature to get started!