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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: 11 February 2019

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

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

Related Cases

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/
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) .
Case/
6 October 2014

Counsel to the surviving siblings of Jeffrey Baldwin in Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Jeffrey Baldwin

Counsel to Surviving Siblings in Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Jeffrey Baldwin, 2013 - February, 2014.  A copy of the Chief Coroner's...
Case/
2 May 2014

Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone

Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, 2014 FCA 110 (leading case on employer’s obligations to accommodate employees on the basis of family sta...
Case/
26 September 2013

Timmins and District Hospital v. Ontario Nurses’ Association

Timmins and District Hospital v. Ontario Nurses’ Association, 2013 ONSC 6002 (judicial review of labour arbitration award regarding long-term di...

Related Resources

Event/2 April 2019

Danielle Bisnar Speaks at Lancaster House 2019 Toronto Human Rights and Accommodation Conference

Danielle Bisnar speaks at Lancaster House's 2019 Toronto Human Rights and Accommodation Conference, ...
News/16 January 2019

Cavalluzzo Wins Reinstatement and Damages for Employee Terminated for Misconduct Caused by Addiction

On January 10, 2019, Arbitrator Larry Steinberg released a decision in which he upheld ONA's grievan...
News/7 December 2018

Globe and Mail: "New OPP Head to Testify in Sexual Harassment Case"

Cavalluzzo is counsel in the two Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario applications discussed in the Glo...
News/5 December 2018

Cavalluzzo Secures Big Win at Arbitration — Human Rights Violation for Terminating an Employee Due to Theft Caused by Addiction

On December 4, 2018, Arbitrator Eli Gedalof released a highly anticipated Award in this difficult an...
News/26 October 2018

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario: Providing Different Employment Benefits Based on Age is Unconstitutional

On May 18, 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ("HRTO"), held in Talos v. Grand Erie District...
News/16 January 2019

Cavalluzzo Wins Reinstatement and Damages for Employee Terminated for Misconduct Caused by Addiction

On January 10, 2019, Arbitrator Larry Steinberg released a decision in which he upheld ONA's grievance that a nurse suffering from an addiction, who h... Read More
News/7 December 2018

Globe and Mail: "New OPP Head to Testify in Sexual Harassment Case"

Cavalluzzo is counsel in the two Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario applications discussed in the Globe and Mail's article. The first application, McWi... Read More
News/5 December 2018

Cavalluzzo Secures Big Win at Arbitration — Human Rights Violation for Terminating an Employee Due to Theft Caused by Addiction

On December 4, 2018, Arbitrator Eli Gedalof released a highly anticipated Award in this difficult and contentious area of labour relations. In a griev... Read More
News/26 October 2018

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario: Providing Different Employment Benefits Based on Age is Unconstitutional

On May 18, 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ("HRTO"), held in Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, that the Ontario Human Rights Code ... Read More
News/30 October 2017

Stephen Moreau to present oral argument at the Supreme Court of Canada in one of the most important Canadian Human Rights Act cases since the Act's enactment in 1977

On November 28, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear a highly anticipated appeal in Canadian Human Rights Commission v. Canada (Attorney Genera... Read More
News/25 October 2016

Kate Hughes is quoted in the Toronto Star: "Police environment 'poison' for women officers, tribunal told"

Alyshah Hasham's article, published in the Toronto Star on October 25, 2016, reports on a sexual harassment and discrimination complaint filed before ... Read More
Event/Apr 2, 2019: 09:00 - 16:00

Danielle Bisnar Speaks at Lancaster House 2019 Toronto Human Rights and Accommodation Conference

Danielle Bisnar speaks at Lancaster House's 2019 Toronto Human Rights and Accommodation Conference, co-leading a workshop entitled "Accommodating Empl...

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