Section 34 offers certainty and protection to employers by
imposing time limits on claims brought under the Ontario Human Rights Code ("the
Code"). Recently, in Meiri v York Region District School
Board, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ("the
Tribunal") affirmed the application of these time restrictions
to employer policies with continuing effects. Such policies do not
constitute new incidents, or a series of incidents, that reset the
one-year time limit for bringing claims.
In general, employees seeking to bring a claim under the
Code must do so within the timeframe provided by section
34: within one year of the impugned incident or the last incident
in an impugned series of incidents. However, the Tribunal retains
discretion to grant extensions to the one-year limitations period
where the delay was incurred in good faith and no substantial
prejudice will result to any person affected by the delay.
In Meiri, the Applicant made an application to the
Tribunal in October 2015 related to her employer's
refusal to provide a written reference letter. The Applicant first
made her request upon the completion of her contract in June 2006,
then again in October 2014 following unsuccessful attempts to find
other teaching positions. Each time, the employer refused to
provide a written reference letter in accordance with its policy.
The Tribunal held, citing Visicv Ontario Human Rights
Commission, that the continuing effect of an employer
policy does not constitute a new incident or series of incidents,
and noted that holding otherwise would effectively remove any time
limit on filing an application. Therefore, the Application filed in
October 2015 was barred because the filing deadline was June 2007,
i.e. one year after the date of the initial refusal in June 2006,
not the last refusal in October 2014. The Applicant also had
nothing preventing her from pursuing her Application within the
required timeframe and did not satisfy the test for delay incurred
in good faith. Accordingly, the Tribunal dismissed the
Written with the assistance of Kassandra Shortt, summer
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
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