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Legal

The OHRC uses targeted legal action, including Public Interest Inquiries, to advance an expansive interpretation of the Code, establish important precedents that adopt OHRC policies, promote broader public change, and pursue public interest remedies. Some of our most recent case work can be found below. Each Annual Report also reviews the past year’s legal work.

The OHRC's Litigation and inquiry strategy sets out when and how the OHRC decides to conduct an inquiry or take an application to the Human Rights Tribunal or when to intervene in a legal proceeding. 

To request a Commission initiated-application, inquiry or intervention, contact legal@ohrc.on.ca

See our Litigation and Inquiry Strategy for more information about OHRC legal action.

  1. Racial profiling inquiry: Objectives (fact sheet)

    December 2003 - The Commission’s racial profiling inquiry initiative was undertaken in response to community concerns about the impact of profiling on members of their respective communities. The inquiry’s main objectives were to give individuals who had been subjected to profiling an opportunity to share those experiences and to show its effects on their families and communities. In doing so, the Commission hoped to raise public awareness of the harmful effects and the social costs of racial profiling.

  2. Re: Sexualized and gender-specific dress codes in restaurants

    July 8, 2016 - In pursuit of our public interest mandate, section 31 of the Code authorizes the OHRC to request production of documents and gather other information as part of an inquiry. Pursuant to section 31, we are writing to request that you review employee dress codes in your Ontario operations, remove any discriminatory requirements, and provide documentation showing that you have done this.

  3. Rental housing licensing Inquiries

     

    Two public interest inquiries by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) will explore if new rental housing licensing bylaws in North Bay and Waterloo create discriminatory barriers to rental housing. The inquiries are being conducted under the OHRC’s Human Rights Code mandate to promote, advance and protect human rights in Ontario.

  4. Section III: The balancing tools

    From: Balancing conflicting rights: Towards an analytical framework

    This section of the paper surveys the balancing tools found in the Code and relevant case law. Documents such as Commission briefing notes and Policy Papers provide invaluable commentary on these tools and their insights are woven into the following discussion. The goal of this section is to identify the resources for balancing conflicting rights that will be utilized in the scenarios discussed in Section IV.

  5. Setting new standards for defining discrimination

    From: Annual Report 2010-2011: Looking back, moving forward

    Preventing discrimination is at the heart of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The courts and tribunals continue to clarify what this means. One example is a landmark ruling in September 2010.

    In Tranchemontagne v. the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that two alcoholics were entitled to disability benefits. This case looked at what constituted discrimination in human rights law.

  6. Settlement relating to Toronto Police Service Memorial Wall

    November 11, 2015 - the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) filed an Application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) alleging discrimination in employment based on disability because of the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) failure to include on its Memorial Wall officers who end their lives as a result of a mental health disability incurred in the line of duty. On April 18, 2017 a settlement was reached with the following terms...

  7. Summary: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board v. Fair

    On May 31, 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario[1] unanimously upheld decisions by the HRTO, which had found that Sharon Fair (Fair) had been subjected to employment-related discrimination by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (the School Board) and had ordered compensation for special and for general damages ($30,000) as well as an order for Fair’s reinstatement. The HRTO’s decisions had earlier been upheld by the Divisional Court.

  8. The move towards an intersectional approach

    From: An intersectional approach to discrimination: Addressing multiple grounds in human rights claims

    Multiple grounds in equality and human rights jurisprudence

    Some courts and tribunals have started to acknowledge the need to make special provision for discrimination based on multiple grounds and to recognize the social, economic and historical context in which it takes place. However, despite these advancements, the courts’ understanding of a proper intersectional approach is still in its infancy. What follows is a discussion of recent cases in which a move towards a multiple grounds or intersectional analysis is evidenced in either a majority or dissenting opinion.

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