Human Rights

Protecting and enforcing human rights is fundamental to a just society. We work with unions, individuals, and organizations in workplaces and communities to bring forward human rights concerns through collective agreement grievance procedures, administrative law hearings, human rights commissions and boards of inquiry, and in the courts. In order to advance these goals we use both legal advocacy and law reform initiatives.

Our equality rights practice addresses a wide range of issues including gender discrimination, sexual and racial harassment, sexual orientation discrimination, religious and political discrimination, discrimination on the basis of disability, drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, and the duty to accommodate.

Our services include:

  • advice and representation before Human Rights Commissions, Boards of Inquiry and Tribunals under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and the federal Canadian Human Rights Act;
  • advice and representation in the enforcement of the federal Employment Equity Act;
  • developing innovative dispute resolution processes for human rights complaints, including those dealing with sexual and racial harassment;
  • conducting audits and investigations and reporting on human rights complaints for organizations and human rights commissions.

Notable representations include:

  • Association of Ontario Midwives v. Ontario (Health and Long-Term Care), in which the Firm represented the Association of Ontario Midwives in an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ("HRTO"), which alleged that the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care had discriminated against midwives on the basis of sex with respect to their compensation and funding formula. In a landmark ruling, the HRTO found that the Ministry's conduct and inaction resulted in a significant compensation gap between midwives and physicians providing comparable services, which amounted to impermissible systemic discrimination based on sex.
  • Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, in which Wayne Talos, a high school teacher, brought an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ("HRTO") arguing that cutting off his health and dental benefits when he turned 65 was unconstitutional. The firm represented Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario ("ETFO") and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association ("OECTA") as intervenors in the proceeding, in support of Mr. Talos’s position. The HRTO agreed that the policy was unconstitutional. As a result, employers can no longer provide age-differentiated health and life insurance benefits.
  • McKinnon v. Ontario (Correctional Services), in which the Firm represented Michael McKinnon in an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleging that the Ministry of Correctional Services had discriminated against him based on his Indigenous ancestry. The proceeding lasted for more than 20 years, and is now a leading case on human rights remedies in applications addressing race discrimination. As a result of this case, the Ontario Human Rights Commission entered into a partnership with the Ontario government to work on implementing long-term systemic initiatives to prevent racial discrimination in Ontario correctional institutions.
  • McWilliam v. Toronto Police Services Board, in which the Firm represents Heather McWilliam in an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleging that the Toronto Police Services Board discriminated against her and carried out acts of reprisal after she complained about alleged sexual harassment, sexual solicitation and sexual advances from her supervisors in the workplace. The alleged conduct includes sexual and sexual comments during every shift, which created a poisoned work environment. Ms. McWilliam also seeks redress for the Board's failure to properly investigate her allegations.
  • Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, in which the Firm represented the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund as an intervenor at the Federal Court of Appeal.  The Court of Appeal confirmed that the Canadian Human Rights Act's prohibition of discrimination based on family status includes parental obligations, such as childcare obligations.

Ongoing Class Actions

Last Modified: 27 July 2021

Enbridge Pension Plan Class Action

The class action alleges that Enbridge was required to give its employees “credited service” when its employees take a maternity or parent...

Completed Class Actions

Last Modified: 25 June 2021

Employment Insurance, Moms on Maternity Class Action / Assurance emploi - recours collectif

The class action alleged that the government and its EI Commission refused to recognize those sickness leave claims and negligently advised claimants ...

Related Cases

Case/
10 January 2019

The Regional Municipality of Waterloo (Sunnyside Home) and Ontario Nurses' Association

Kate  Hughes and Tyler Boggs acted for the Ontario Nurses' Association in The Regional Municipality of Waterloo (Sunnyside Home) and Ontario...
Case/
12 November 2018

Ministry of Correctional Services v. McKinnon

Ministry of Correctional Services v. McKinnon, 2010 ONSC 3896 (Div. Ct.) This is an application for judicial review brought by the Ministry of Correct...
Case/
8 May 2018

Wayne (Steve) Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board

Paul Cavalluzzo and Adrienne Telford acted for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, and Kate Hughes and Lauren Sheffield acted for ...
Case/
9 November 2017

Fenton v. Toronto Police Service

Fenton v Toronto Police Service 2017 ONCPC 15, (represented public complainants and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in police discipline...
Case/
6 October 2014

Chaoulli v. A.G. (Quebec)

Counsel to the Canadian Medical Association at Supreme Court of Canada in in Chaoulli c Québec (Procureur général) .

Related Resources

News/27 July 2021

Cavalluzzo LLP launches class action against Enbridge Inc and Enbridge Gas Inc.

Cavalluzzo LLP launches class action against Enbridge Inc and Enbridge Gas Inc. Enbridge employees a...
News/29 June 2021

Danielle Bisnar, Jan Borowy and Cynthia Crysler Published in Employment and Labour Law Reporter

The article focusses on a significant Supreme Court of Canada case (Fraser v Attorney General) relea...
News/7 April 2021

Former Partner Mary Cornish Interviewed to Discuss Pay Equity Laws in Ontario

Former Partner Mary Cornish Interviewed to Discuss Pay Equity Laws in Ontario on Equal Pay Day
Event/27 February 2021

Patricia D'Heureux Speaks at Osgoode Certificate in Human Rights for Educators Conference

Patricia D'Heureux speaks on competing rights at Osgoode's Certificate in Human Rights for Educators...
Blog/14 July 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

Rosemary Brown: A provincial politician dedicated to advocating against racism and sexism

Cynthia Crysler writes about the Rosemary Brown: the first Black woman to be elected to a provincial legislature across Canada, almost 50 years ago, a...
Blog/14 July 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

Rosemary Brown: A provincial politician dedicated to advocating against racism and sexism

Cynthia Crysler writes about the Rosemary Brown: the first Black woman to be elected to a provincial legislature across Canada, almost 50 years ago, a...
Blog/8 June 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

"We Demand": Marking the 50th anniversary of Canada's First Gay Rights Demonstration

Sheilagh Turkington writes about the 50th anniversary of Canada's first gay rights demonstration in Ottawa.
Blog/19 May 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

Labouring within and against racism: Reflecting on early 20th century Chinese Canadian workers’ labour organizing to fight racism and unfair working conditions

Lauren Sheffield reflects on early 20th century Chinese Canadian workers’ labour organizing to fight racism and unfair working conditions.
News/27 July 2021

Cavalluzzo LLP launches class action against Enbridge Inc and Enbridge Gas Inc.

Enbridge employees across Canada who have taken a parental or pregnancy leave since 1990 may be missing years of service in their pension plans

Cavalluzzo LLP launches class action against Enbridge Inc and Enbridge Gas Inc. Enbridge employees across Canada who have taken a parental or pregnanc...
News/29 June 2021

Danielle Bisnar, Jan Borowy and Cynthia Crysler Published in Employment and Labour Law Reporter

Published Article Focuses on the Important Advances on Issues for Gender Equality and Pensions

The article focusses on a significant Supreme Court of Canada case (Fraser v Attorney General) released recently which has advanced equality law for w...
News/7 April 2021

Former Partner Mary Cornish Interviewed to Discuss Pay Equity Laws in Ontario

Interview Released as part of Equal Pay Day

Former Partner Mary Cornish Interviewed to Discuss Pay Equity Laws in Ontario on Equal Pay Day
News/28 January 2021

New Partner Announcement

Cavalluzzo LLP is very pleased to announce that Niiti Simmonds and Michael Mandarino have joined our partnership.

Cavalluzzo LLP is very pleased to announce that Niiti Simmonds and Michael Mandarino have joined our partnership. We wish them both ongoing success as...
News/26 August 2020

Danielle Bisnar Quoted in Toronto Star Article on Order Protecting Migrant Farmers' Rights

Danielle Bisnar was quoted in Toronto Star Article on the recent Court Order protecting vulnerable migrant workers' rights.  A copy of the articl...
News/3 July 2020

Tyler Boggs Quoted in Toronto Star Article: “Human Rights Ruling Finds Sexual Harassment Common Among Toronto Police”

Tyler Boggs was recently quoted in the Toronto Star article titled “ Human Rights Ruling Finds Sexual Harassment Common Among Toronto Police.&nb...
Event/Feb 27, 2021

Patricia D'Heureux Speaks at Osgoode Certificate in Human Rights for Educators Conference

Patricia D'Heureux speaks on competing rights at Osgoode's Certificate in Human Rights for Educators conference.    This conference provides...
Event/Oct 6, 2020

Niiti Simonds Speaks at Law Society Conference "Best Practices for Paralegals"

Niiti Simmonds speaks at Law Society Conference "Best Practices for Paralegals Appearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario". Niiti will be d...
Event/Aug 25, 2020 - Aug 24, 2020

Danielle Bisnar Speaks at OBA Public Sector Lawyers Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law Program

Danielle Bisnar Speaks at OBA Public Sector Lawyers / Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law Program. This event will discuss Bill ...
Event/Apr 14, 2020

Tyler Boggs Speaks at Infonex’s 25th Annual Conference on Professional Regulation and Discipline (Postponed)

Tyler Boggs speaks at Infonex’s 25th Annual Conference on Professional Regulation and Discipline.   He will be presenting on the Duty ...
Event/Apr 1, 2020

Jeff Andrew Speaks at Lancaster House Human Rights Human Rights and Accommodation Conference (Postponed)

Jeff Andrew speaks at Lancaster House’s Human Rights and Accommodation Conference.  He will be participating in a panel called:  &ldqu...
Event/Apr 2, 2019

Danielle Bisnar speaks at Lancaster House Human Rights and Accommodation Pre-Conference Workshop

Danielle Bisnar speaks at Lancaster House's Human Rights and Accommodation Pre-Conference Workshop on accommodating employees with episodic disabiliti...
Publication/28 July 2020

RCMP Must Acknowledge the Force's Underpinnings

Policy Options Article `RCMP Must Acknowledge the Force's Racist Underpinnings` discusses the racist stereotypes and beliefs that were embedded into t...
Publication/1 March 2018

Bisnar, Danielle & O'Brien, Shaun. "Regulating Disability and the Public Interest: A Case Study on the Human Rights of Regulated Professionals", Canadian Journal of Administrative Law & Practice, Volume 31, Part 1 (March 2018)

Bisnar, Danielle & O'Brien, Shaun.  "Regulating Disability and the Public Interest: A Case Study on the Human Rights of Regulated Professiona...
Publication/3 November 2014

Securing Employment Equity by Enforcing Human Rights Laws

Securing Employment Equity by Enforcing Human Rights Laws, Employment Equity in Canada, (C. Agocs ed.) UTP: 2014, coauthored by Jan Borowy, Mary Corni...
Publication/7 May 2014

Judgment - Canadians Living Abroad

Judgment - Canadians Living Abroad
Publication/3 May 2014

A Growing Concern: Ontario's Gender Pay Gap

This year’s report examines whether there has been any change in the pay gap and denotes a troubling development.