This is general information only. It is not legal advice about your situation. This publication is not a substitute for a lawyer’s research, analysis and judgment. This information sheet is reliable as of the date of publication. You should be aware that the law and procedures under the Human Rights Code and at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario are subject to change without notice.
- How do I set out all of the facts that I am relying on at question 8 in my Application?
- What is an example of how a question 8 might look in an Application?
- What if my Application is about a policy or practice that has discriminated against me, rather than any specific event(s)?
- What if I do not include a description of every incident of alleged discrimination in question 8?
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“Tribunal”) Application Form (“Form 1”) is the document that starts your application on its way through the Tribunal process. It sets the stage for everything that the Tribunal will deal with in hearing your application. It is therefore very important that you take the time you need to consider what you will write down in your application. Often it will take several drafts of your application to get the right information down and in the right order.
The Form 1 asks many questions designed to help you think about what will be important in terms of establishing that there may have been a violation of the Human Rights Code (“Code”), including who is responsible for the human rights violation claimed, what witnesses and documents are important, and other details. A very important part of your application, however, is the section that asks you to provide a detailed first-person account of the situation that led to your application. This means that you must describe what happened that makes you feel that you were discriminated against under the Code. This part of the application is found at Question 8 – What Happened?
Note: For more assistance and information on completing your Form 1 you can visit the Tribunal’s website and read their Applicant’s Guide
Rule 6.2 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure requires you to set out all of the facts that you are relying on to support your claim of discrimination. This means that you must tell the Tribunal what happened to you that makes you believe that you were discriminated against. Rule 6.2 says that an application must:
- Provide the information requested in every section of the application form and the related supplemental form(s) and Form 4 (if applicable)
- Set out all the facts that form the substance of the allegations of discrimination including the circumstances of what happened, where and when it happened
- Give the names of person(s) or organization(s) alleged to have violated the Applicant’s rights under the Code
You should tell your story using numbered paragraphs, giving the information in chronological order. This means that you should start from the beginning and end on the date of the last incident of discrimination in your application.
You must explain each event in detail. For each event, include:
- What happened
- Who was involved
- When it happened (day, month, year)
- Where it happened
Provide as much detail as you need to so that the Tribunal knows exactly what happened, who was there when it happened, when it happened, and where it happened. Also, if the way you were treated is different from the way other people were treated, be sure to explain why you think that to be the case.
Your sentences should be short and your paragraphs should not go on for too long. Avoid writing one big block of text that fills up an entire page or more with no paragraph breaks. Often, it may be better to attach a separate document (called a “schedule”) at the end of the application which you can call “Schedule A –What Happened”? If you decide to do this you can, at section 8 of your application, write in “See attached Schedule A” and that will advise the reader to go to the end of the application to see your answer to section 8.
Remember to actually describe the events that happened rather than simply stating conclusions about those events. For example, compare the following two (2) examples of descriptions of the same event:
Example A: In the meeting on December 15, 2007, Mary acted in a rude and insulting way.
Example B: In the meeting on December 15, 2007, Mary raised her voice at me in the meeting. She told me that I was not helping out the company by taking so many days off. She told me that everyone else was chipping in to fill in when I was not around and that this was not fair to the other employees. I did not know what to say. Then Mary got up and walked out, slamming the door behind her.
Example B is a description of what happened rather than just a conclusion or a label of Mary’s behavior. Example A does not really tell the reader anything about what happened. Example B actually describes what happened. It informs the reader what you think is “rude” and/or ‘insulting”.
You could start with a sentence such as in Example A but you should then fill in the details to flesh out the events that you are relying on to establish your case. That is what Example B does.
Below is a very short example of an application arising in an employment context, showing how you can set out your facts for Question 8. Note that the sentences are short and straightforward and that there is not too much information in each of the sentences and paragraphs. This makes it very readable and easy to understand.
This example incorporates all of the four questions - who, what, when and where - that should be included in your description of all of the events that you are claiming amount to discrimination under the Code. This example is not intended to represent a fully detailed and complete application. It is intended to just provide a short illustration of how to directly and simply describe what happened.
Schedule A: What Happened?
September 5, 2007
1. Mary Jones (my supervisor) and Frank Carter (the Human Resources manager) had a meeting with me and told me that I was missing too much work. I told Mary and Frank that I have depression and sometimes have to miss work because of it. They said that I would have to “try to do better” and to “not miss work”.
2. This happened at the ABC Corporation Ltd.’s office in Vancouver.
3. Mary told me that I would have to try to do better. Frank told me not to miss work.
4. It was unfair for Mary and Frank to say what they did because sometimes I had to miss work because of my depression.
October and November 2007
5. I had to miss several days (approximately 2 a month) during the fall. I don’t know the exact dates I missed.
6. I gave Mary a note from my family doctor which explained that my absences were caused by my depression, but Mary told me the note “wasn’t good enough”.
7. This happened at ABC Corporation Ltd.’s office in Vancouver.
8. It was unfair for Mary to tell me the note “wasn’t good enough” because I have depression and wasn’t able to go to work.
December 17, 2007
9. Mary and Frank had another meeting with me. They told me that I was fired for missing too much time from work. When I explained again that I missed work because of my depression and that I had tried to give Mary a doctor’s note in the summer, they did not care and fired me anyway.
10. This happened at ABC Corporation’s office in Vancouver.
11. Mary told me I was fired. Frank gave me a letter signed by him that said I was fired for missing too much time from work.
12. I believe that I was fired because I sometimes had to miss work because of my depression.
What if my Application is about a policy or practice that has discriminated against me, rather than any specific event(s)?
In some cases, there may be a rule, policy or practice that unintentionally impacts particular people and results in unequal treatment. If your application is about a policy or practice that has a negative impact on you, you should be sure to include a description of the policy or practice and describe how its impact on you is related to a Code ground.
For example, an employer may have a rule that male employees must be cleanshaven. Using this rule, the employer may refuse to hire a Sikh man, because according to the Sikh religion he cannot shave. While the rule is not “intended” to exclude Sikh men from a job, it has a negative effect on Sikh men.
This type of unintentional discrimination is called “constructive” or “adverse effect” discrimination. In these types of applications, unless the employer can show that a change or exception to the rule would be too costly or create a health and safety danger, the employer should agree to change the rule.
You should do your best to describe every incident of alleged discrimination and explain each one. It is very important to include every incident that you claim is discrimination and every fact and issue you wish to speak about in the hearing or the mediation. It may not always be possible for you raise new incidents of discrimination at the hearing if they are not mentioned in the application.
For example, if you filed an application that alleged discrimination based on the grounds of ethnic origin, ancestry and colour and then you later wish to change it to add the ground of age you will have to seek to amend your application. In general, the closer you try to do this to the application’s hearing date, the harder it will be to get the amendment from the Tribunal. You can add details through witness statements (which are required later in the process) but it must relate to matters that are already described in the application form.
This is why, as mentioned above, you need to take as much time as you need (without going beyond the one (1) year limitation period for filing a claim) in order to ensure that your application is as complete and accurate as it can be at the time that you file it. Trying to change or amend your application later can be a lot of extra work and there is no guarantee that the Tribunal will permit the amendment.