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: 13 January 2020

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/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...
News/28 January 2021

New Partner Announcement

Cavalluzzo LLP is very pleased to announce that Niiti Simmonds and Michael Mandarino have joined our...
Event/6 October 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 ...
Blog/7 April 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

Voting Rights: reflecting on the long-fought battle against denied voting rights at the intersection of race, gender, class, religion and disability

Sheilagh Turkington writes about the long-fought battle against denied voting rights at the intersection of race, gender, class, religion and disabili...
Blog/7 April 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

Voting Rights: reflecting on the long-fought battle against denied voting rights at the intersection of race, gender, class, religion and disability

Sheilagh Turkington writes about the long-fought battle against denied voting rights at the intersection of race, gender, class, religion and disabili...
Blog/2 March 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

Charles Roach: Advocate Against Systemic Racism, Oppression and Police Abuse of Power

Adrienne Telford writes about Charles Roach - a human rights lawyer, activist, artist, musician and prominent leader in Toronto’s Black community, who...
Blog/23 February 2021

Reflections: Labour, Human and Civil Rights

Michele A Roberts: Helping to Shift the Balance of Power in the NBA

Aminah Hanif writes about Michele A Roberts, the first woman to lead a major professional sports union in North America.
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...
News/9 June 2020

Anti-Black Racism and Systemic Discrimination Must End

Since George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis in late May of this year and the video recording of this incident became public, we ha...
News/25 July 2019

ONA Successfully Challenges Arbitration Decision in Divisional Court

In ONA v Cambridge Memorial Hospital and Arbitrator Dana Randall, the Divisional Court set aside an arbitration award involving a nurse suffering subs...
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: 09:00 - 12:30

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 wil...
Event/Aug 25, 2020: 09:00 - Aug 24, 2020: 10:30

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 ...
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: 09:00 - 16:00

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/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...