When to File
Naming an Ontario government ministry or agency as a respondent
Questions 7-9, Information that Supports your Application
Questions 12-15, Other Legal Proceedings
Questions 16-18, Documents that Support this Application
Questions 21-22, Final Steps Before Filing the Application
If you think your situation is the type of case that the HRTO will hear, you have the right to make an application. Making a claim is a long process with many steps and sub-steps, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. This guide will take you through each step, and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre will also provide information and legal support if you need it.
Your human rights complaint begins when you file a completed application form with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). You will then be called the applicant. On the application (Form 1), you must name the organization(s) and any individuals you believe are responsible for the discrimination. They are then called respondents.
The application form to begin a human rights complaint (Form 1) can be downloaded from the HRTO’s website, or filed directly through the HRTO’s website using a smart form, a form you can fill out right on the website.
This guide is set up to help you fill out your application (Form 1) through the HRTO’s smart form. There are 23 questions on the form. The numbers used in this guide are the same as the numbers used on the application form.
Your application may be delayed if you do not include all the information. Make sure you give all the information asked for on both the application and the supplemental forms, and remember to attach any required documents. The HRTO has prepared an Applicant's Guide to Filing at Application with the HRTO that is helpful.
When to File
You must file your application within one year of the incident you are bringing to the HRTO. If there was more than one incident, the application should be filed within one year of the last one. Applications filed after one year are not accepted unless the HRTO finds that there was a good reason for filing late and that the delay is not an issue.
Things to Think About Before Filling in the Form
Before filling in the smart form, you should read this section and think about the information and documents you will need to start your complaint. The application form asks you to name who you blame for the human rights violation (the respondent). There can be more than one respondent. You must also give a detailed account of what led to the claim. Questions on the form include:
- In what area and on what grounds do you believe your rights were violated?
- What happened that makes you feel that you were discriminated against?
- What do you want the tribunal to do about what happened?
- Do you want to see any changes in policies or practices?
The form asks you to list the important witnesses and relevant documents that support your application. You will be asked to explain why each witness can help prove your case (For example, if a witness was there when an incident happened, you would say that on the form.)
The form asks about any relevant documents that other people have and that you need in order to prepare your case.
This section will help you to fill in the smart form. The questions are grouped together under topics. Read carefully through this guide and be sure to fill in the answers to all 23 questions on the application form. You can also see the Applicant's Guide to Filing an Application with the HRTO. It provides instruction about the form in both English and French.
Questions 1-4, Contact information
This question asks for basic details about you, how you want to be contacted, and if you are filing on behalf of someone else.
Your Contact Information
It is very important that you give the HRTO your most recent contact information. If this changes, you must let the HRTO know right away or you may delay and ruin your application.
You may not want the HRTO to share your contact information with other people involved in your application. You might also think it will be difficult for the HRTO to contact you at your current address. If either of these is a concern, you may give them contact information for someone who will act as your alternative contact person. This person will get all the mail from the HRTO on your behalf. Make sure that the person agrees to be your alternative contact. It is very important that your alternative contact person knows how important it is to pass along any HRTO material to you as soon as it arrives.
If you have a lawyer, paralegal or other person acting as your representative, all communication from the HRTO will be sent to that person. You must give the HRTO his or her complete contact information, and you must check the box on the form that allows this person to act as your representative.
List the name of each organization and any person who might become a respondent in your complaint. If you are not sure exactly whom to name, you should call the HRTO Legal Support Centre for help.
You will also need to name a contact person for the organization and give contact information for that person. The contact person should be someone who will be able to respond on behalf of the organization (for example, the president, the human resources manager or the property manager). A contact person is not a respondent to the application. If you also want to name the contact personal as a respondent, you must include his or her information in both places on the form.
Naming an Ontario government ministry or agency as a respondent
The HRTO DOES hear claims against the Ontario government. When you name a government ministry as a respondent in your Application, you must write it like this:
Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, as represented by the Minister of ___________________ (Fill in the name of the ministry)
Questions 5 and 6: Grounds of Discrimination Claimed / Area in Which it Occurred
There are many specific grounds of discrimination (Click Here). Check through the list carefully to see which one(s) apply to your situation. Click beside each ground that you believe applies to the discrimination you are claiming.
You can check off more than one ground, for example, age and disability, or country of origin and disability.
You may have faced indirect discrimination. The code protects people from being discriminated against because of association. The code also protects people who are punished for trying to protect their rights. This is called reprisal.
Q6 Area of Alleged Discrimination
Your answer to Question 6 will lead you to another form you must fill in. On your application, click the boxes for the area(s) where you feel you have faced discrimination. The Code prohibits discrimination ONLY IN THESE 5 AREAS and if your application does not relate to one of them, it will be dismissed. If you believe you were discriminated against in more than one area, you should check “yes” to the box that asks, “Does your application allege discrimination in any other areas?” and then list the other areas.
Examples from Each Area
- Employment: You were denied a promotion because you use a wheelchair. (Form 1-A)
- Housing: You were denied an apartment because you are a person with a disability. (Form 1-B)
- Goods, services and facilities: You were denied access to a recreation program because of your disability. (Form 1-C)
- Contracts: You were denied the option to buy a house or condo because you are a person with a disability. (Form 1-D)
- Membership in a vocation association: You were denied membership a sailing club or a legion because you are a person with a disability.
Questions 7-9, Information that Supports Your Application
Q7: Location and Date
Be specific. The HRTO usually won’t accept applications that are filed more than a year after the event.
Q8: What Happened?
Tell the HRTO what happened to make you believe that the respondent has discriminated against you based on one of the grounds in the code. It will be easiest to understand your story if you start from the beginning and end with the last incident of discrimination. A very helpful way to make your story clear is to include only one incident or event in a paragraph and to number the paragraphs so you can refer back to them if necessary.
Explain each event and include:
- what happened
- who was involved
- when it happened (day, month, year)
- where it happened
If the way you were treated is different from the way other people are treated, be sure to explain that as well. You must explain why you believe that the treatment you received was because of the prohibited grounds you identified in Question 5 (e.g., your disability). If your application is about a policy or practice that has a negative impact on you, be sure to describe the policy or practice and describe how its impact on you is related to a code ground.
*** It is very important to include every incident of discrimination and every fact and issue you wish to raise. It may not be possible for you to raise new incidents of discrimination at the hearing if they are not mentioned in the Application. ***
Q9 How the Events You Described Affected You
Explain how the discrimination affected you (financial, social, health or other). For example:
- if you lost money or income because of the discrimination, give details.
- if your emotional or mental health suffered, describe this problem and how it affected you.
- if you lost an opportunity (such as a promotion or new apartment) because of the discrimination, explain how.
Q10: The Remedy
Monetary Compensation: The HRTO can make an order that the respondent pay you money damages for:
- Money that you have lost or have been forced to spend because of the discrimination, such as lost wages and benefits, increased rent or moving expenses.
- Injury to your dignity, feelings and self-respect as a result of the discrimination.
The HRTO can also order the respondent to pay interest on the money that is awarded as damages.
Non-Monetary Remedy: The HRTO can order the respondent to do something that will put you in the position you would have been in if the discrimination had not happened. For example, if you lost your job because of the discrimination, the HRTO could order that you get your job back. Or, if your employer refused to accommodate your disability, the HRTO could order that the employer meet those needs.
Remedy for Future Compliance with the Code: A remedy for future compliance with the code is an action that the respondent can be ordered to take to prevent other people from facing the same type of discrimination in the future. For example, the HRTO could order the respondent to change hiring practices to encourage people with disabilities to apply.
Q11: Choosing Mediation to Resolve Your Application
The HRTO offers mediation to help parties to solve their disputes. It can be faster and more casual than a hearing. Mediation can happen only if the parties agree to it. An HRTO mediator will be assigned to the case. The parties must sign a mediation agreement agreeing to, among other things, keep what is said in the mediation private. The adjudicator will meet with all the parties to talk about the application and to try and work out a solution that all parties can accept. If a settlement is reached, the parties will sign a written agreement. Any party can come back to the HRTO if the agreement is broken.
If mediation does not settle all the issues, a hearing will still take place and a different adjudicator will decide the application. What is said during the mediation by the mediator or by any party cannot be mentioned at the hearing unless both parties agree. If you want to try mediation, put an X in the “Yes” box on the application form. The HRTO encourages you to try mediation.
Questions 12-15: Other Legal Proceedings
The application asks if you are now involved, or have been involved with other legal proceedings related to the same facts or issues that are raised in your application. They want to know if you have attempted to deal with these same issues in another setting, for example a court or workplace tribunal. You must answer “yes” or “no” to all the questions in this section, or your application may be treated as incomplete, and the HRTO will not be able to process it.
Q12: Civil Court Action
If you have made a claim in a court that is related to the events in your application, you must include a copy of the statement of claim with your application. The HRTO may not process your application without a copy of the Statement of Claim. If this applies to you, you may have to delay or change your HTRO application. Consult the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for details.
Q13: Complaint Filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission
Tell them if you have previously filed a complaint with the commission based on the same or almost the same facts as this current application. If so, you will need to include a copy of the complaint. The HRTO will not process your application until it receives a copy of the commission complaint.
Q14: and 15: Grievance or another tribunal
You need to tell the HRTO about any other places where you have made a complaint, and include a copy of that document with your application to the HRTO. The HRTO may not process your application until it receives this document.
If the other proceeding is still going on, the HRTO may decide to postpone your application until the other proceeding is finished. If the other proceeding is complete, the HRTO may dismiss your application in whole or in part if it finds that the other proceeding has properly dealt with the main issues raised in your application. You will have an opportunity to explain why you believe the other proceeding did not appropriately deal with the substance of your application.
Questions 16-18 Documents That Support This Application
This is the section where you list the most important documents that you believe will support your application.
Q16: Important Documents You Have
List the important documents that you have. At this point you only need to write down the names of the documents you will be using; you don’t have to send copies with your application. Any documents you send with your application will be shared with the respondent.
You must let them know if you are claiming that any of the documents are privileged and will not be disclosed. If you have questions about whether a document may be privileged, ask a legal advisor.
Q17: Important Documents the Respondent Has
List the important documents that you do not have, but that you believe the respondent has in their possession.
Q18: Important Documents Another Person or Organization Has
List the important documents that you believe someone else - other than the respondent - has that you do not have.
Question 19: Witnesses
List the names of witnesses who have important information that will support your application. Explain why their information is important. This part of your application will be kept confidential by the HRTO. It will not send this section of your application to the respondent when they deliver the application. Once your application is scheduled for a hearing, you and the respondent must exchange witness lists and statements.
Question 20: Other Information the Tribunal Should Know
This is your opportunity to tell the HRTO any other information that you believe is important but that did not fit into any other question on the application. For example, it may be important to tell the HRTO if you are aware of other similar or related applications filed against the same respondent.
Question 21-22: Final Steps Before Filing the Application
Checklist of Required Documents:
Use this checklist to make sure that you have attached or will send all of the documents you need to complete your application. You can send the documents together with your application, or separately by mail, fax or email. If you are sending your application separately, you must clearly write your name and the respondent(s) name on each document.
Q21: Area of Discrimination under the Code
This question reminds you to fill in and include the supplemental form that relates to the social area you chose and checked off in Question 6.
If you fill in the smart form on-line, the supplemental form will attach to your application automatically. If not, you must remember to send to the HRTO or your application will be considered to be incomplete and the HRTO will not process it.
Q22: Documents from questions 12-15
This question reminds you to include the documents related to another legal proceeding if you answered “yes” to one or more of Questions 12-15. If you are filing your application online, you must remember to send the document to the HRTO right away.
*If you don't give all the required documents to the HRTO, your application may not be processed.
Question 23: Declaration and Signature
Before you sign your application, carefully read:
- the statement on Freedom of Information and Privacy
- the declaration that goes above your signature
When you sign your application, you declare that your application is as complete and accurate as you can make it. This means that, to the best of your knowledge, you have included everything you were asked to and that all of your answers are true. If you are filing your application electronically, clicking the box in the Declaration section represents your legal signature.