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Assistance to help you participate in a process if you have a disability, religious requirement, or other need linked to your human rights. For example, if you are deaf you may need an American Sign Language translator, or if your first language isn’t English you may need an interpreter.



Adjudicative record

The documents in your case, like your application and the final decision.

Administrative tribunal

An independent tribunal established by provincial or federal governments that makes decisions on a wide variety of matters. They are often called commissions or boards. An example would be a human rights commission or a health and safety commission.


In disagreement. The justice system is an adversarial system where the two parties compete against each other.

Alternative dispute resolution

A method outside of the formal court of tribunal process where parties work to find a solution themselves. Also called mediation.


Only your initials and not your full name are used in any public decisions.


To identify someone only by initials rather than full name.


Times you have to show up for a hearing or procedure.


Arbitrary behaviour means acting in a way that is unreliable or unreasonable. In a union environment, examples could be a failure to meet with you, hear your side about what happened, or not gather facts to decide whether a grievance is required.


A binding, final process where a neutral third party listens to legal arguments and evidence from both sides and then makes a decision that everyone has to follow.

Arguable case

A case is arguable, or winnable, if there is a reasonable argument, based in evidence, for your claim. If you don’t have an arguable case, your application could be refused.

Award of damages

A judge’s decision, if your case is successful, about how much money you will receive.


Bad faith

Acting in deceptive or underhanded ways. Examples of bad-faith actions include decision-making based on personal hostility, revenge, or a hidden agenda.

Balance of probabilities

The standard of proof in some cases, where you have to prove that something more likely than not happened. This is a lower standard than the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.


Black, Indigenous, person of colour.


Canada Labour Code

A law that applies to workers in federally regulated industries. It contains regulations that apply to labour conflicts, occupational health and safety issues, and more.

Canadian Human Rights Act

An act that applies to federally protected workers that outlines the grounds on which people are protected from discrimination.

Chronological order

Putting the documents or evidence in the order they happened.

Civil court

Civil court cases involve people suing other people. You could bring a suit against a harasser in a civil court to seek damages or another remedy. Judgments in civil court can involve awards of money or changes to practices, but do not include jail.

Civil lawsuit

A legal action in which you sue a person or a company. You could bring a suit against a harasser in a civil court to seek damages or another remedy.

Code grounds

The categories of discrimination protected by human rights codes. Codes state that you can’t discriminate against people on grounds like age, ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, place of origin, creed, disability, family status, marital status, gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation.

Collective agreement

A contract between a union and employer that covers all areas of the work relationship. It explains the rights and obligations of an employer, the union, and the union members. A collective agreement is specific to a union and an employer, and may cover things like wages, hours, working conditions, and benefits.

Common law

The system of rules based on previous court decisions, also called precedent. Judges must follow previous decisions when deciding in similar cases. The common law is not written in any code or book, but evolves through courts hearing new cases.


Mediating between two people or groups to bring them to an agreement.



Confidentiality agreement

An agreement or contract that says what you can and can’t talk about after signing it. It might be signed before starting mediation or it might be part of a settlement agreement.

Confidentiality clause

An agreement that requires you to keep parts of a settlement secret.

Confidentiality order

An order that prevents certain aspects or materials from a case being available to the public or reported in the media.

Conflict of interest

When someone’s personal interests, such as family, business, or social, could affect their judgment or decision making. For example, if a restaurant owner is friends with the person who’s harassing you, they are in a conflict of interest and not able to make a fair decision about how to handle the situation.

Constructive dismissal

When your employer didn’t literally fire you, but effectively fired you by making such big changes to your work that you might as well have been fired. The kinds of changes that count as constructive dismissal include a reduction in work hours, a change in work assignment, a pay cut, a demotion, or a suspension.


Meeting or opportunity to give input.

Contingency fee

When a lawyer works for a percentage of the amount you win if your case is successful. If you don’t win, they are not paid.

Contract of service

Also called an employment contract. It can be a written or verbal agreement between a worker and an employer. The agreement usually says that the worker will work for the employer in return for wages or a salary. A contract of service can include full- or part-time work, piecework, temporary agency work, or short-term contracts.

Corrective actions

Measures to end a problem—for example, workplace training or a revised harassment policy and program.


An assessment of whether the witness is telling what they believe to be the truth. The judge decides how credible a witness is before accepting their testimony.

Curriculum vitae

Résumé, record of qualifications.



A payment of money.


Demande déposée auprès de la cour ou du tribunal pour lancer l’affaire en décrivant ce qui s’est passé et en quoi c’était illégal.


Making untrue statements, spoken or written.


Put off or delay.

Demand letter

A formal letter that calls for the recipient to perform a legal obligation like pay a sum of money, stop some activity, or complete some action. A lawyer can draft a demand letter for you or you can write one yourself. Demand letters are often effective, low-cost ways to achieve some results.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5

A manual published by the American Psychiatric Association that classifies mental disorders using standard criteria. A doctor may be asked to diagnose a psychological injury according to a DSM criterion or description.


The requirement to share all documents or evidence that has a connection to your case, even if it hurts your case.


The point in a legal case where both sides must share any documents or other evidence, and can interview the key witnesses before a trial or hearing.


Different treatment because of some protected characteristic, or being treated the same, but in a way that there’s a different effect because of a protected characteristic.


Treating someone differently on the basis of a protected characteristic or characteristics like their sex, gender, race, age.

Dispute resolution

Ways a conflict can be resolved, including mediation, settlement, or going to court.

Duty of fair representation

A union’s duty to not treat you, or your sexual harassment case, in a way that is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.



Information and materials that support a fact in a legal proceeding. Both you and the other side will likely provide evidence to try to prove what’s being said is true.

Examination for discovery

An oral examination recorded by a court reporter in which you and the defendant answer questions related to the case, even if it hurts your case.

Expedited hearing or proceeding

A sped-up process. Expedited hearings are less formal than full hearings. The flexibility is designed to help you save time, effort, and resources, including money.

Expert witness

Someone with special professional knowledge, like a medical doctor, social worker, or psychiatrist.


Federally regulated industry

About 7% of workers are employed by federally regulated industries. These are


A place where a claim can be considered. It could be a court, tribunal, a grievance arbitration, or other type of hearing.


Gender expression

The way that a person presents their gender to the world, which they might do through clothing, hair, makeup, behaviour, and lifestyle.

Gender identity

The gender that a person senses or says they are, which may not be the same as their biological sex.

Good faith

Acting in an honest or proper way.


A formal complaint by a unionized employee against an employer under the collective agreement. A union files a grievance with the details about what happened, which laws or parts of the collective agreement were broken, and what the union wants the employer to do about it.

Ground of discrimination

The attributes or personal characteristics on which discrimination is illegal. These include citizenship, race, place of origin, ethnic origin, colour, ancestry, disability, age, creed, sex, family status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, record of offences, and other characteristics. The grounds of discrimination vary depending on the human rights code in a province or territory.

Group circle

A process for a group of employees involving regular meetings to discuss and find solutions for issues, or to resolve a dispute. Another name for a group circle is a quality circle.


Independent contractor

A person or company that is retained to provide services, but is not an employee.


Judicial review

The process where a judge reviews the decision of a previous judge or decision-maker.


The power or authority to make legal decisions on a topic or in a specific place. For example, a tribunal might have jurisdiction for cases dealing with workplace safety in a specific province.


Leading questions

Questions designed to get the answers the questioner wants by leading them to the answer.


Legal action.

Litigation bullying

Tactics to delay or prolong a case, like filing unnecessary motions, requesting lots of extra documents, refusing to hand over documents, or changing lawyers. These can be strategic moves to drive up your legal costs so you either settle or drop your case altogether.

Litigation guardian

A person who acts in a legal capacity on behalf of someone who is under the age of 18.



A social movement highlighting and protesting sexual harassment and sexual assault that gained prominence in 2017 when it was revealed that major film figure Harvey Weinstein had harassed and sometimes raped many women. The name was created by activist and sexual assault survivor Tarana Burke.


The intention, for no reason or excuse, to do something illegal.


The process of trying to settle your case by coming to an agreement with your employer or harasser, often with the help of a neutral mediator.


What steps you take to lessen the harm you have experienced—for example, looking for another job after you were fired.


A request to the judge or decision-maker by one party in a legal action to make a decision about something in the lead-up to hearing the case. For example, either party could bring a motion for an order that the other side provide specific documents or to make a confidentiality order.


Non-disclosure agreement

An agreement or contract between all parties that they won’t reveal certain details of a settlement.


The gender identity of someone who is neither male nor female.



The perspective of someone not influenced by any personal feelings or opinions when considering the facts.

Oral evidence

Evidence given by someone speaking under oath, also called oral testimony.



Every person, company, or organization that is named in a case, proceeding, or lawsuit.


The person who starts the case by making a claim.


The formal claim and response in a legal case. These might be called the statement of claim and statement of defence, or the application or complaint, or the response and the reply.

Power imbalance

When one person has some advantage or dominance in relation to another person. An example is the boss-worker relationship.


The result in a similar previous case that must be followed by judges in future cases.


In a legal context, this means there are no more options to reopen the case. If a case is dismissed with prejudice, it can’t be heard again by the same court.

Prima facie

At first sight or on first impression; accepted as true unless proven otherwise.


Legally protected. Conversations or documents from certain confidential relationships don’t have to be shared. Common types of privilege are doctor-patient and solicitor-client.

Pro bono

Providing legal representation for free.

Protected grounds

The attributes or personal characteristics on which discrimination is illegal. These include citizenship, race, place of origin, ethnic origin, colour, ancestry, disability, age, creed, sex, family status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, record of offences and other characteristics. The grounds of discrimination vary depending on the human rights code in a province or territory.


Post-traumatic stress disorder.


Intended to punish.


Quality circle

A group of employees who meet regularly to discuss and find solutions for issues. Another name for a quality circle is a group circle.

Quid pro quo harassment

When someone expects sexual favours like going on a date or allowing them to touch you in return for some benefit like giving you a raise or better hours.


Reasonable person standard

How a hypothetical person would react in a situation.


An assessment that a witness’s testimony or recollection can be trusted.


The kinds of things that can be ordered when you win a case, like money, getting your job back, making your employer pay for sexual harassment training for managers or staff, or improving the sexual harassment policy.


Being disciplined, fired, suspended, or threatened because you have reported sexual harassment or tried to enforce your rights. This is illegal.


The person or company that responds to a claim.

Restorative justice

An approach to justice that tries to repair harm by having the parties listen to each other, and then have the offender take responsibility for the harm.


An amount of money a lawyer requires up front before they start work on your case. It gets applied to your legal bill, like a deposit.



The formal process for delivering a legal document like a notice of a proceeding or a summons.


An agreement reached before the final decision that settles the case. It is a contract with an offer and an agreement to drop the case.

Settlement agreement

The terms parties agree to when an issue or conflict has been resolved before the final decision.


A final payment when you are fired from a job or negotiate your resignation.

Statement of claim

The claim that is filed with the court or tribunal to start the case by describing what happened and in what way it was illegal.

Statement of defence

The respondent’s answer to the claim that describes their version of events and the facts they think matter to the case.

Substantial prejudice

Significant unfairness.

Summary hearing

A type of hearing that deals with the case early on, determining if there is enough evidence to go ahead or if the case should be dismissed.


An order to appear as a witness in a legal proceeding.


Taking the stand

Testifying in a court or tribunal.


Being fired or let go from a job.


Speaking under oath to a court or other official body.


A statement given under oath in a court or tribunal about what happened.


A type of civil court case asking for money or other remedies for harm done. Defamation is one kind of tort law.

Traumatic event

An event or series of events that cause harm or stress, like experiencing workplace harassment, physical violence, or threats, or being placed in a life-threatening or potentially life-threatening situation.


A legal body that deals with specific issues or areas of law. It is less formal than a court but more formal than many other processes.


Will say

A document summarizing what a witness is going to say in a hearing or court case.


People who have direct information and who personally know things that are important to your case.

Workplace harassment and violence policy

A document that outlines the employer’s and workers’ responsibilities and rights regarding reporting, responding to, and preventing harassment and violence.

Wrongful dismissal

Being fired without cause—that is, without a valid reason or without being given reasonable notice or pay instead of notice.