Area of Law: Human Rights
Answer # 833
What to do about discrimination or harassmentRegion: Ontario Answer # 833
If you are being illegally discriminated against or harassed, but you believe that you can confront the person responsible, then you should do so. Immediately bring the problem to the attention of that individual, and tell the person in a polite but firm manner that their conduct is not acceptable.
Keep written records
Make a written note of your attempts to bring the conduct to an end and the person’s response. You should also keep a written record of the incidents of discrimination and harassment as they happen. This may become very useful if you have to prove your version of the events at a later time. You should record what happened, when it happened, where it happened, who the people involved were, whether any other people witnessed the same conduct, and what you and others did in response to this conduct.
Generally, you should first take advantage of internal complaint mechanisms such as internal ‘discrimination & harassment’ dispute procedures, or grievance arbitration mechanisms in unionized settings. In many organizations, there are supervisors, managers or human resources staff who are responsible for dealing with such situations. In unionized settings, union officials may be able to help. However, if such attempts are not possible or are unsuccessful, you may wish to bring the conduct to the attention of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, or a lawyer.
Time limits for filing a complaint
You should be aware that there are time limits for filing a complaint. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario deals directly with all claims of discrimination filed under the Human Rights Code. An application can be filed up-to one year after the discrimination or harassment was experienced. If there was a series of events, you can file up to one year after the last event. There may be also be exceptions where the Tribunal will extend this time.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s time limit is also one year. You should be aware that contacting the Commission or sending intake forms to the Commission is not considered the same as filing a complaint which involves signing the formal complaint document. Beyond these time limits, the commissions may, in their discretion, refuse to deal with complaints if the reasons for delay are unreasonable or if the delay was caused in bad faith.
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If you need help filing a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), or with other Court proceedings, contact our preferred experts, George Brown Professional Corporation .
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