Human Rights Legal Support Centre

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Welcome to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre offers human rights legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code. Our services may include legal assistance in filing applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and legal representation at mediations and hearings.

Board update

We are pleased to announce that Ena Chadha has been appointed as the new Chair of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre’s Board of Directors, and want to welcome Tamar Witelson as a new Board Member. Ena Chadha is a practicing human rights lawyer with more than 25 years' experience. She looks forward to taking on this leadership role, working with the HRLSC’s staff and Board Members, the HRTO, and the OHRC and she notes that this is a very important era for human rights in Ontario, and the Centre is a key pillar in the province’s human rights system. Tamar Witelson is the Legal Director at METRAC, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, where she heads the Community Justice Program. The Centre looks forward to working with both Ena and Tamar, and we would like to thank Patrick Nadjiwan for his work as Interim Chair of the Board.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence: Pursuing a Claim at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Survivors of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and in other specific social settings (for example, in schools, at your doctor’s office, on campus) have the right to protection under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.   This is in addition to participating in a criminal process, or, as an alternative to a civil lawsuit. Claims of sexual harassment can be filed directly at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  If you want to pursue a claim, you can obtain free legal services from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

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Steps to Justice

Steps to Justice, led by CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario) gives comprehensive online information on common legal problems that people experience in family, housing, employment and other areas of law. 



What's new at the Centre?

Video: Defending your human rights in Ontario – what you need to know (December 2017)

This video takes Indigenous people through every-day discrimination scenarios at home, when shopping and at work. It provides information about Ontario’s Human Rights Code and how to get free legal help from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. The video is a joint project of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario.

Tribunal finds pregnancy a factor in employee’s termination

2017 HRTO 1335 Puniani v Rakesh Majithia CA Professional Corporation

The Centre represented Neha Puniani, who was treated to an angry reaction from her employer when he found out she was pregnant. During the hearing, Puniani testified that the employer “began counting off the months on his fingers and demanded to know whether she had known that she was pregnant when he had interviewed her in August.” She testified that as he left her he said ‘we will see what needs to be done.’ Later that week she was fired.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • $10,000 financial compensation for the discrimination (and an additional $2,000 from the personal respondent)
  • $2,269.23 in lost wages
  • $9,236 in lost benefits (Employment Insurance benefits)

To read the full decision, visit CanLii

Co-op student rejected for placement because of her sex

Browning v. Northend Body Shop Ltd., 2017 HRTO 1001

The Centre represented Natalie Browning, a high school student who was excited about her co-op placement at an auto body shop. Her teacher had recommended the business because two other students had done their co-op placements there.

At the hearing, Browning testified the owner “asked her if she really wanted to get her hands dirty because his shop was dirty. She told him she did. She testified she does not think a male candidate would have been asked such questions.” The owner knew she was there to get hands-on work experience with cars, yet he first offered her filing work and then told her she could answer phones. When she declined, the interview was over.

The brief interview left Browning shaken. She testified that “she was upset, shaken up, caught off guard and embarrassed. She had been excited about the co-op, but then decided not to pursue this trade.”

The Tribunal ordered:

  • Financial compensation of $7,000 for the discrimination
  • The owner to take the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s on-line training “Human Rights 101”

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

Landlord regrets family believed they were going to be excluded because they have a child

A human rights matter was settled in August involving allegations that the Respondent denied housing to a family with a child.

David Wood [the landlord] regrets that the family believed they were going to be excluded because they have a child. He realizes that to assume children automatically reduce the quality of living for other tenants is not only false but treats those looking for housing as less than human and such actions can lead to homelessness as a result.

“The law is clear – it is discriminatory to refuse housing to tenants based on family status,” said David Wood. “I have committed to understanding the obligations under the Human Rights Code of Ontario”.