This is not legal advice! What you are getting here is just general legal information. It is not a substitute for advice from an actual lawyer about your specific situation. If you need legal advice, we urge you to find a lawyer who can help you.
Most people don’t do this. In fact, very few people do.
It’s a long and slow process. If you hire a lawyer to help you, it will be expensive, and if you don’t, you’ll need to do a lot of work yourself.
And the outcome is sometimes not very satisfying.
Some people hope that, at the end of the process, they’ll be told that, yes, they were harassed, and it shouldn’t have happened. But that hardly ever happens. Fewer than 2% of complaints ever get to a final ruling. The rest are settled in mediation or thrown out, abandoned, or withdrawn.
So why do people decide to file a complaint?
Some people want to go to court and speak the truth in public. Even if their odds of winning are low.
If that’s what you want, the Human Rights Tribunal can be a good choice.
It’s a shorter process than civil court—usually about a year—whereas civil court cases can take several years. You’re allowed to represent yourself, which means you don’t need to pay for a lawyer. And it’s a little less adversarial than civil court.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and what it does
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is an administrative tribunal where you can file a formal complaint saying you’ve been sexually harassed. It is less formal than a court, but more formal than many other legal processes. The tribunal deals with discrimination cases. One law that protects you from discrimination is the Ontario Human Rights Code. Sexual harassment under the code is discrimination based on sex.
The tribunal’s job is to resolve complaints. If your complaint falls within the commission’s jurisdiction, it will accept it for investigation. Then it will encourage you to resolve the complaint through mediation. If that doesn’t work, the tribunal will hold a hearing, listen to both sides, and decide whether you were sexually harassed. If it decides you were, it may order the other party to make amends in some way.
Facts about the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
- Every year, about 1,000 people file a complaint with the tribunal saying they have been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.
- Less than half those who file a complaint are represented by a lawyer. About 90% of those who have a complaint brought against them have a lawyer.
- The majority of complaints filed with the tribunal never get decided by the tribunal. They are either abandoned, withdrawn, dismissed, or settled through mediation.
- The tribunal rules on about 75 complaints of all types per year. About half of the time, it finds in favour of the person who filed the complaint. About half of the time, it decides the complaint is unfounded.
- When the tribunal decides that someone was discriminated against or harassed, it sometimes gives them an award of money as compensation for financial losses they suffered, and the hurt and loss of dignity they experienced. There is technically no limit to the amount of money the tribunal could award, but the tribunal says it is usually between $5,000 and $15,000.
- It usually takes about 13 months from the time a complaint is filed until it is resolved.
- Sources: HRTO 2019-20 Annual Report, law professor Laverne Jacobs
Why consider filing a complaint with the tribunal
If you decide to file a complaint with the tribunal, here are a few things you may get out of the process:
- It’s a chance to tell the harasser what they did is not okay.
- You might get back money you lost because of the harassment—maybe you didn’t get a special project or a promotion, or were fired.
- You might get your job back, or get a reference for a new one.
- You could request that your workplace make changes that would affect everyone there, not just you, like improving employee policies and training around sexual harassment.
- It is possible to get some money to recognize the emotional harm you suffered from the harassment.
Pros and cons of going to the tribunal
- The tribunal has expertise in harassment. All it does is handle complaints of discrimination, including harassment.
- The tribunal has the power to say that, yes, you were harassed, and that what happened to you was wrong.
- The tribunal can order many different remedies. It can award you money. If you were fired or had to quit because of the harassment, it can order your employer to give you your job back. It can order your employer to remove the person who harassed you from your workplace. It can order your employer to make a donation to a charity, or to provide anti-harassment training.
- If you go to civil court instead of the tribunal, you might end up having to pay the other party’s legal costs if you lose your case. With the tribunal process that can’t happen. You will never end up needing to pay the other party’s legal costs.
- The tribunal process may be quicker than many other legal processes. The tribunal says that, on average, its process takes just over a year from start to finish, whereas other legal processes can take many years.
- If you hire a lawyer to represent you, that will be expensive. If you don’t hire a lawyer, your chances of success are much lower. People who represent themselves at the tribunal are less likely to have their complaints found justified.
- Even though it’s less complex than other legal processes, the tribunal process is still difficult. There is a lot of paperwork to file, lots of deadlines to keep track of, and a lot of rules to follow.
- Very few people end up being told by the tribunal that they were harassed and what happened to them was wrong. Tribunal data says that of all the cases that go through the tribunal process, only about 5% end up with the tribunal having a hearing and finding in favour of the person who was harassed. The overwhelming majority of complaints to the tribunal are either abandoned, withdrawn, dismissed, or settled through mediation.
- Tribunal awards are considered fairly small. There is technically no limit to the amount of money the tribunal could award to you, but the tribunal says that when it awards money, the amount is usually between $5,000 and $15,000. This amount may be higher for precarious workers. And remember, with most tribunal cases, people don’t end up receiving any money at all.
- If you choose the tribunal process, you may close the door to other legal options.
- Even if the tribunal awards you money or other things, that doesn’t mean you will necessarily get them. It can be hard to force your employer or the harasser to give you everything the tribunal ordered, or what you agreed to in mediation.
- Like in any legal process, your opponents will try to undermine your credibility and make you look bad. You could end up feeling disbelieved and unsupported.
- Some psychologists believe it’s a bad idea for people who have experienced sexual harassment to get involved in any legal process. They say legal processes can slow down your ability to heal emotionally from what happened to you, because they keep you focused on the past. These experts believe that it can be healthier for the person who experienced harassment to put the past behind them and focus on their present and their future.
Will the tribunal accept my application?
- You have one year from when the harassment happened to file your application with the tribunal. If the harassment happened more than once, the deadline is one year from the last incident of harassment. In certain situations, the tribunal will accept late applications if you can show the delay was in good faith and the late application will not cause significant harm to the respondent.
- You can apply to the tribunal if you work in Ontario, but not at federally regulated workplaces, like banks, airlines, telephone companies, and TV and radio stations. If you’re unionized, you must make your complaint through your union. You’re covered if you’re non-unionized, temporary or permanent, an independent contractor, or undocumented.
- Even if the harassment happened outside Ontario, the tribunal may take your case if you work for an Ontario-regulated employer and you’re based in Ontario—for example, if the harassment happened while you were on a business trip outside of the province.
- After you submit your application, the tribunal might decide that the harassment you faced doesn’t relate to a ground of discrimination under the code. In that case, your application will not proceed.
- If you’ve already started a case in civil court, the tribunal will likely not process your application. There are a couple of exceptions to this: if you withdraw the civil case, or if your civil case is dealing with a different issue that is not included in your Human Rights Tribunal application. For example, if the civil court case is only about unpaid wages.
- Your application may be stopped or delayed if you are going through a process at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. See Should you apply for workers comp?
- Even if you have another case going on, you still have to apply to the tribunal within one year of the last incident.
- If you win your other case, the tribunal may decide not to hear your application. If you lose the case and feel as if the other process didn’t deal with the same human rights issues, you can explain this to the tribunal. It will decide whether or not your case has been dealt with.
- You can file an application against anybody who is sexually harassing you at work—your employer, a co-worker, a supervisor, a customer, or contractor. In your application, you can also name the company or organization you were or are working for. Even if your employer is not harassing you, they have to protect you from sexual harassment and a harassing environment. See How to report sexual harassment to your employer.
It is very common for the tribunal to dismiss applications. Your application could be dismissed because it was filed too late, because it’s outside of the tribunal’s jurisdiction, because it is already being handled in another forum, or because the tribunal believes you have no reasonable chance of succeeding. It’s important to be careful when you’re filling out your application, so it doesn’t end up just getting dismissed.
When you apply to the tribunal, you are the applicant. That means you are the person who is filing a complaint that you have been sexually harassed.
The respondent can be anyone who is harassing you or has harassed you at work—your boss, a co-worker, a customer, even a contractor. You can file an application against both the person who harassed you and your employer for not protecting you. This can be a confusing decision to make, especially if you feel that your case is less about your workplace’s failure to protect you and more about the harasser.
You and the respondent are both allowed to have someone represent you through the tribunal process. That person can be a lawyer or anyone else you choose. That person is called the representative. If you are represented by a lawyer, the tribunal will generally communicate only with that person, and it will be their responsibility to keep you informed.
As you go through the tribunal process, you will eventually come in contact with a vice-chair, who may also sometimes be called an adjudicator, mediator, or decision-maker. There isn’t just one vice-chair—there are lots of them. Their job is to lead conference calls about your complaint, lead the mediation process (if you do that), and be the decision-maker at hearings (if you get that far). Your complaint may be handled by multiple vice-chairs: You may have one vice-chair acting as a mediator, and then a different vice-chair as the decision-maker at your hearing.
If you agree to mediation, the tribunal will assign you a mediator. Their formal title is vice-chair. Their job is to explain the mediation process to you and the respondent, listen to your stories, and try to help you reach an agreement. They are expected to behave neutrally: They’re not supposed to pick a side, and they aren’t supposed to favour either you or the respondent. They may explain to you why your case is weak or strong, but they won’t make a decision about whether your complaint is justified. Their goal is to try to reach a solution that both parties can agree to, so your case doesn’t have to go to a hearing.
If your case does go to a hearing, the tribunal will assign you a decision-maker, who is sometimes also called an adjudicator. Their formal title is vice-chair. Their job is to hold a hearing where they will listen to you and the respondent and decide whether your complaint is justified. Very few cases ever get to the hearing stage. When a complaint does get to a hearing, the decision-maker decides it is justified about half the time. If the decision-maker finds a complaint is justified, they will also order the respondent to do various things, like give you money as compensation for what you experienced.
What you’ll have to prove
- It’s you, the applicant, who has to show there is enough evidence to go forward to a hearing. Once the tribunal accepts that it can hear your case, you will have to convince it that there was more than a 50% chance that what happened to you was sexual harassment under the code. This is called the burden of proof on a balance of probabilities. The tribunal will use the “reasonable person” standard to decide whether your harasser should have known that their behaviour was unwelcome. This standard looks at and balances what a reasonable person in your position would have thought, and what a reasonable person in your harasser’s position would have thought about the situation.
- You’ll have a chance to tell your story—or testify—submit documents, and bring witnesses to the hearing to prove your case. But the tribunal knows that in sexual harassment cases, incidents often happen in secret. So, it’s very possible that you might be the only witness. Also, when you’re being sexually harassed, keeping documents is not necessarily the first thing on your mind. You’ll possibly have to prove your case mainly through talking about your story at the hearing and explaining what happened.
- Usually, there needs to be more than one incident. But sometimes, one incident can be so serious that it falls under the definition of sexual harassment.
- Just because you didn’t say “no” or “stop” doesn’t mean that what the respondent did wasn’t sexual harassment. Under the code, the harasser either has to know or should have reasonably known that their behaviour was unwelcome. There may be many reasons why you might not have felt comfortable saying anything when the harassment was happening, like a power imbalance between you and your boss, or your fear that you would get punished if you said anything to an important client.
- Sometimes, whether a certain behaviour is known or should have reasonably been known to be unwelcome is clearer than others. For example, employers should know that making sexual comments about someone’s body is unwelcome. Other times, it might be less obvious. For example, a co-worker asking you to go on a date (where they do not threaten you or promise you something in return) is likely not going to be considered sexual harassment. But if your boss asks you out, you might feel you’ll be punished if you don’t say yes.
Other important considerations
- A tribunal hearing is usually a public process. In most cases, personal information about the cases and their parties may be available to the public and searchable on public internet databases. In some cases, the tribunal allows parties to request a publication ban, which is an order that the tribunal makes to stop the respondent or someone else from publishing your name or certain details about your case.
- When the tribunal writes and publishes a decision, it usually includes the full name of the parties. But it will publish only the initials of a party who is younger than 18. If you do not want to have your full name published, and you can provide a good reason for this, you can ask the tribunal to use only your initials in the published decision. This is known as anonymization. You can ask for an anonymized decision at any point after you apply. For more information on how to request anonymization, see the tribunal’s Practice Direction on Anonymization of HRTO Decisions.
- If you need some changes in the process to help you take part at the tribunal, request those as soon as you can. You can ask the registrar of the tribunal for accommodations. The tribunal only has to provide accommodations based on disability and you may have to supply more information, like medical documents. For more information about accommodations, see the tribunal’s Accessibility and Accommodation Policy.
What are the possible outcomes
The Ontario Human Rights Code determines the remedies the tribunal can order to try to respond to the sexual harassment at the end of the case if you are successful. There are many factors that affect the kind of, and the amount of, remedies you might receive. One might be how vulnerable you were and how much of a power imbalance there was between you and your harasser. There are two categories of remedies.
- General damages compensate you for the loss of or harm to dignity, feelings, and self-respect.
- Special damages compensate you for lost wages, or for things you had to pay for yourself because of the harassment, such as therapy. Special damages can include the costs you will continue to have, such as future therapy appointments.
- Future compliance, or public interest remedies, can be things like changes to your workplace policies. You could, for example, ask for training for the harasser on sexual harassment policies.
- Non-monetary compensation can also include things like your employer giving you a reference letter or taking steps to get you back to a job, either at the same workplace or another one. It can also include transferring your harasser to a different department.
When you fill out your application you can list what remedies you would like in each of these categories, including the total amount of money you think you should receive. Be aware that the tribunal looks at what kinds of steps you took to reduce the losses you faced because of the harassment. This is called mitigation. If you did not take steps to limit your financial losses—for example, by looking for a new job after having been fired—the tribunal may lower the amount of money it will award to you.
If you want to learn more about the kinds of remedies the tribunal has ordered in cases that may be like yours, go to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre website. You will find summaries of cases, with tribunal orders, including cases of sexual harassment.
If you want to learn more about the kinds of remedies the tribunal has ordered in cases that may be like yours, you can search for decisions related to sexual harassment and read full case decisions on CanLII, a free database for legal decisions in Canada.
At mediation, you and the respondent could agree on the remedies above—and possibly more. At a hearing, the decision-maker can only order remedies allowed under the code. At mediation, a settlement can contain whatever terms and remedies you and the respondent agree on. However, usually the mediator will try to help the parties decide on remedies by explaining what the tribunal can and would likely decide if the case does go to a hearing.
The tribunal process step-by-step
The tribunal process is complicated and we’re not going to lay out every stage here. You can find detailed information about the whole procedure on the tribunal’s website.
Another option is the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC), an independent agency funded by the province, which also offers extensive and detailed how-to-guides and frequently asked questions sections that cover virtually all aspects of bringing a case before the tribunal. It includes step-by-step directions on every part of the process.
While theoretically it is possible to proceed with a complaint representing yourself, this is very challenging, time consuming, and potentially harmful to your mental health. Your chances of success are much greater with legal help.
You may be able to get help from a lawyer for free. Here are some places that offer free or lower-cost legal services:
- The HRLSC provides free legal help and support to people throughout Ontario who have been discriminated against, including those who have been sexually harassed. It offers services in 140 languages, including Cree, Oji-Cree, Mohawk, and Ojibway. It can help with applications to the Human Rights Tribunal and may be able to assist with representation at the tribunal and other aspects of the process, though this is not guaranteed. The type of assistance that the HRLSC will be able to give you is decided on a case-by-case basis. The HRLSC also has a team to offer people who have been sexually harassed legal information on what steps, if any, they might take regarding their case. It is known as the Sexual Harassment and Resource Exchange (SHARE) team.
- Legal Aid Ontario funds over 70 community and specialty legal clinics, many of which provide employment law services. These can include assisting with complaints to the tribunal, including complaints relating to workplace sexual harassment. The specialty clinics serve Toronto clients based on their identity—Aboriginal Legal Services, the Black Legal Action Centre, Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples, for example. Legal Aid is only for those with low incomes; in 2021, the maximum income for one person to access clinic services was just under $23,000. Find a legal clinic here.
- Pro Bono Ontario has a Workplace Sexual Harassment Hotline. The lawyers there can help you determine what your legal issues are and aid you in drafting letters and basic legal documents. They may also be able to refer you to pro bono and other lawyers; the pro bono service is dependent on your income level.
- The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic assists low- and middle-income women-identified and non-binary people who have experienced violence. It has lawyers who can give you advice about your legal options if you have been sexually assaulted or harassed. The clinic’s #AndMeToo project is for marginalized women who have been sexually harassed at work.
- JusticeNet is a not-for-profit service for those whose income is too high to qualify for legal aid but too low to afford regular legal fees. To qualify you must have a net family income under $90,000 and be experiencing financial difficulties. Participating lawyers’ reduced rates vary depending on your family size and income.
- Your workplace union, association, or Employee Assistance Program may be able to help you find legal services or cover part of your legal fees.
The application is available online on the tribunal website, and all the forms are there as well.You can also ask the tribunal to mail you copies of the forms if you have trouble downloading them or don’t have access to a computer or printer. There is also an Applicant’s Guide. The forms are available in English and French. If you need accessible forms or have questions about other languages, contact the tribunal directly by phone (1-866-355-6099) or email.
The main form you need is Form 1 (the application). Anyone who wants to make a complaint to the tribunal needs to fill out this form. If you are filing a sexual harassment complaint related to employment, you’ll also have to fill out Form 1A. If you are under 18 years old, you cannot submit the application yourself. You’ll need a litigation guardian, and they will also need to fill out Form 4A.
Filling out your application to the tribunal might take more time than you expect. You will need to fill in a lot of details, such as information about your employer; the effect the harassment had on you; the remedies you are asking for; whether you are interested in mediation; the kind of documents you plan on showing the tribunal; and much more. You need to apply within one year of the last time the harassment happened.
After you apply
After you apply, you’ll get a letter from the tribunal with your case file number. This does not mean that the tribunal has accepted your application. It is just the way it tracks your file. If you are filing your complaint yourself, you must use this number in all future communication with the tribunal.
|Process||What this looks like|
|The tribunal accepts your application||It will send it to the respondent and they will then have a chance to give an answer to it, or response. You’ll also get a chance to give an answer to their response, or reply|
|After you submit your application, you want to withdraw it||If you want to withdraw your application before the respondent has acted on it, you can. Your case will simply be closed and nothing more will happen. If the respondent has already filed a response and the case is moving ahead, it’s not that simple. The further you get in the process, the more complex withdrawing becomes. See Rule 10 of the Rules of Procedure on exact steps for how to withdraw your application|
|After you submit your application, the tribunal reviews it and wants to defer because another you are involved in another proceeding||If you want to ask the tribunal to proceed with the application, file a request for order during proceedings with a statement of delivery|
Forms: Form 10 (Request for Order); Form 23 (Statement of Delivery)
Deadline: As soon as possible Once another proceeding has ended, the tribunal must resume within 60 days
|After you submit your application, the tribunal reviews it and sends a notice of intent to dismiss||To ask the tribunal not to dismiss your case, file a response to a notice of intent to dismiss|
Deadline: Within 30 days after you receive the notice
|After you submit your application, the tribunal reviews and finds that there’s information missing||Complete the application with the missing information and send it back to the tribunal |
Deadline: 20 days after the tribunal sends back your application
Mediation is the process of trying to settle your case by coming to an agreement with the respondent, who must agree to participate. This process is not to determine whether you were sexually harassed according to the code. Mediation is a way of encouraging the parties to settle their dispute without having to go to a hearing where someone else will decide if the law was broken. This process is optional, but highly encouraged by the tribunal. Remember that, if you settle on an agreement in mediation, this will mean that your case will not go to a hearing. The tribunal will not write a public decision and it will end your case faster. You won’t have to talk at a hearing about what happened to you, or face questions about it.
Mediators are members of the tribunal—the same people who conduct the hearings. The tribunal will assign one to your case. Your mediator will not be the same vice-chair who would be the decision-maker at your hearing, if you end up having one. Mediators are neutral parties who will not take a side before, during or after the process. You or your lawyer can provide information or show documents to a mediator and request they keep it confidential from the other side.
Before the mediation
|Process||You might need to do|
|Receive the notice of mediation, including the date, time and location for mediation||Make a request for accommodation|
Make a request for separate rooms so you don’t have to sit with the respondent. You can make this request over the phone or in an email to the registrar
Plan for emotional support, before, during, and after the mediation
Deadline: Before the mediation
Make a request to reschedule mediation—you or your lawyer, if you have one, either must call the registrar at the tribunal or send the tribunal a notice in writing proposing an alternative date that is with within eight weeks of the originally scheduled date
Deadline: Within 14 days of receiving the notice of mediation
|Sign your confidentiality agreement|
Deadline: Send to the tribunal before the day of the mediation or bring the signed copy to the mediation
If you and the respondent reach an agreement during mediation, you will sign two documents: the settlement agreement and a confirmation of settlement. The settlement agreement will have all the things you and the respondent agreed to. The confirmation of settlement is a document that tells the tribunal that you have settled your case so the tribunal won’t schedule a hearing.
After the mediation
|Process||You might need to do|
|Sign the settlement agreement||If you reached agreement, sign the agreement|
Form: Form 25 (Confirmation of Settlement)
Deadline: Within 10 days after you agree on the settlement
Sign a settlement that includes a “confidentiality clause” or a separate non-disclosure agreement
|Report concerns about your mediator||If your mediator has been discriminatory or has engaged in misconduct, you can report this to the Social Justice Tribunals Ontario—a group of tribunals that includes the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. If you just don’t like how they mediate, they will not consider this. You will need to explain the reasons for your concerns (who, what, when, where), the steps you think should be taken to deal with the issue, and the result you are looking for. When you report your concern, you should provide your tribunal file number|
|Enforce the agreement||Send a demand letter|
Apply to the tribunal to enforce the award if the respondent breaches settlement
Forms: Form 18 (Contravention of Settlement); Form 23: (Statement of Delivery)
Deadline: Within 6 months of breach of settlement
File with a court to have the monetary part of the order enforced. Your agreement is a legal document, or contract, and the respondent must follow what it says. This is a complicated process and you should get help from a lawyer to do this
You’ve made an application to the tribunal, have chosen not to participate in mediation, or your mediation failed, and now you’ve received your notice of confirmation of hearing. This will tell you the date, time, and location of your hearing. If you have a valid reason for needing to reschedule the hearing date, tell the registrar, in writing, and suggest a new date within 12 weeks after the original hearing date. This must be done within 14 days of receiving the notice of confirmation of hearing.
The tribunal can hold hearings in person, in writing, by phone, and by other electronic means if it thinks it is appropriate. A party may object to the hearing format and the vice-chair will consider the party’s arguments, and decide whether the hearing format chosen by the tribunal is appropriate.
Your notice of confirmation of hearing will also tell you the date of your case management conference call. The tribunal will schedule this call with all the parties to discuss the hearing and try to simplify what comes next. It is scheduled approximately 30 days before the hearing. A vice-chair will be assigned to run your call. During the call, the vice-chair will explain how the hearing will go and will address any of the remaining issues before the hearing.
Now it’s time to prepare, if you don’t have a lawyer to represent you. Mostly, you will want to get your evidence and arguments ready.
Preparing for the hearing
|Things to do||You might want to do|
|File witness statements with respondent and tribunal|
Form: Form 23 (Statement of Delivery)
Deadline: 45 calendar days before the hearing
|If a witness does not want to attend, get a signed summons to witness from the tribunal and send it to the witness|
Form: Form 24 (Summons to Witness)
Deadline: Before the hearing
|Review all the respondent’s witness statements and documents. Identify gaps and inconsistencies. Prepare cross-examination questions |
Deadline: Before the hearing
|If you don’t think the respondent’s witnesses should attend the hearing, file a request for an order during proceedings|
|Tell all your witnesses the date, time, and location of the hearing and arrange when and how you will meet them|
Deadline: As soon as you get the notice of confirmation of hearing
|Request to reschedule the hearing date|
Deadline: Up to 14 calendar days from the date of the notice of confirmation of hearing
|Create a list of your documents that you have to give to the other side and send to respondent List documents that you want to claim privilege over and send the list to the respondent|
Form: Form 23 (Statement of Delivery) to the tribunal
Deadline: 21 days after you receive the Notice of Confirmation of Hearing
|Request an order during proceedings to ask for additional documents from the respondent |
Forms: Form 10 (Request for Order During Proceedings); Form 23 (Statement of Delivery)
|Send documents you are going to rely on during your hearing to the respondent and the tribunal. This includes witness statements of all witnesses you intend to call during your hearing|
Form: Form 23 (Statement of Delivery)
Deadline: 45 days before the hearing
|Add witnesses that you didn’t include in your initial list by filing a request for an order during proceedings|
Forms: Form 10 (Request for an Order During Proceedings); Form 23 (Statement of Delivery)
Deadline: Before the hearing
|Respond to respondent’s request to provide your privileged documents|
Forms: Form 11 (Response to Request for Order);Form 23 (Statement of delivery)
Deadline: Up to 14 days after receiving the request
|Prepare for the case management conference call by pointing out issues that might need to be addressed before the hearing|
Deadline: 7 days before case management conference call
|Request any accommodations you need in advance, in writing|
Deadlines: Well before hearing
Attending the hearing
If your hearing is in person, it may happen at the tribunal hearing centre, or in another location, like a meeting room at a hotel. The decision-makers—vice-chairs—are sometimes referred to as adjudicators.
This is a helpful video from the tribunal on what happens at a hearing.
If you haven’t taken part in mediation already, the vice-chair will likely offer you and the respondent one last chance to try to mediate. If you have already gone through an unsuccessful mediation or you don’t want to do this, the hearing will begin. Both sides will make opening statements at the beginning of the hearing and closing statements about the case at the very end. The tribunal will receive documents and hear from witnesses about what they know about your sexual harassment allegations.
When the hearing is coming to an end, the vice-chair will review all of the evidence that you and the respondent have presented both before and during the hearing. They will likely reserve their decision, considering it for a while and writing the reasons. This can take several months.
The tribunal will send its decision to you by mail. You can also get it by email or fax. If you have a lawyer, your lawyer will get a copy. You can search for decisions of the tribunal related to sexual harassment and read full case decisions at CanLII, a free database for legal decisions in Canada.
The vice-chair’s decision will explain how they looked at the facts in the case and how they applied the law from the Ontario Human Rights Code and other cases that were decided at the tribunal. They will state whether your application was successful and whether you were sexually harassed according to the law. If your application was successful, the decision will outline the remedies you will be receiving.
If you are happy with the decision and the remedies, you will need to make sure that the respondent follows the orders in the decision. If the respondent doesn’t do what they’re ordered to do, you can take steps to enforce the decision.
|Process||You might need to do|
|Enforce the decision||Send a demand letter|
Apply to the tribunal to enforce the non-monetary award
Forms: Form 18 (Contravention of Settlement); Form 23: Statement of Delivery
Deadline: Within 6 months of breach of settlement
File with a court to have the monetary part of the order enforced. The agreement is a legal contract, and the respondent must follow what it says. This is a complicated process and you should get help from a lawyer to do this
|Apply for reconsideration||For more information on how to request a reconsideration, see the Practice Direction|
|Judicial review||If you think the tribunal didn’t follow the law when making the decision, you can ask a court to review the decision|