New human rights procedures came into effect in Ontario in mid-2008, and we’re beginning to see the results of the changes. Session Two at First Reference’s Ontario Employment Law Conference, June 2, 2010, will look at:
- How the tribunal has handled applications under the new and transitional rules
- How best to prepare for success at the tribunal
- Damage awards after the cap: are awards really getting bigger?
- How the courts are handling their new powers to award damages for breaches of the Human Rights Code
The key premises of the new rules are:
- Immediate access to the tribunal
- Strict time frames for applicants and respondents
- Expanded disclosure obligations
- Rule-making and scheduling powers
- The creation of an independent human rights legal support centre
- The removal of caps on monetary awards
- New limitation periods
Under the new rules, individuals file human rights complaints directly with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Ontario Human Rights Commission no longer has the legal authority to handle or refer complaints to the tribunal.
The purpose of the amended rules is that it makes it easier for individuals to access the human rights system, and to make the system more fair, efficient and effective. The tribunal also use the new rules to make sure employers are serious about their duty to accommodate. Not surprisingly, these changes are having significant effects on the way the tribunal interprets its cases, which in turn, is causing important direct and indirect effects on employers.
Stringer Brisbin Humphrey (co-sponsor of the Employment Law Conference) predicts that the changes will continue a trend in Ontario toward higher general damages, increasing restitution awards, and broader public interest remediation demands:
The tribunal is “increasingly utilizing more costly monetary remedies and more onerous and comprehensive public policy remediation elements to encourage employers to ensure compliance with equality rights guarantees. … Employers can anticipate the prospect of increasingly aggressive financial remediation (given the removal of limits on general damages) and more expansive and intrusive approaches to public policy interest remediation.
So, don’t get in trouble with employees who require accommodation! Well, it’s not as simple as that, is it? But you can learn what the new human rights system rules mean for you when you register for the 2010 Employment Law Conference—and Learn the latest!