Mar 15, 2024
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In its recent decision London District Catholic School Board v Weilgosh, 2023 ONSC 3857, the Ontario Divisional Court has confirmed that unionized employees in Ontario have the right to choose whether to pursue human rights claims as individual applicants at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the "HRTO"), or through their union in the grievance process. 

This is a significant decision for unionized workers in Ontario, as it allows them autonomy in choosing how to pursue their human rights claims. 

The Respondent, Ms. Weilgosh, is a member of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association ("OECTA") who claimed that her employer school board discriminated against her on the basis of disability. OECTA filed a number of grievances on her behalf, but Ms. Weilgosh then later filed her own application at the HRTO.

Soon after Ms. Weilgosh filed her application, the Supreme Court released its decision in Northern Health Authority v Horrocks, holding that in Manitoba, labour arbitrators have exclusive jurisdiction over employment disputes involving alleged human rights breaches. This decision prompted the employer to bring a motion to the HRTO claiming that the conclusion in Horrocks also applies in Ontario, and therefore the HRTO had no jurisdiction to adjudicate Ms. Weilgosh's application. 

The HRTO rejected the employer's motion, finding that it had jurisdiction to adjudicate Ms. Weilgosh's complaint. To learn more about the HRTO's 2022 decision, and how it distinguished the Horrocks decision, you can read our earlier blog post HERE.

The employer subsequently applied for judicial review of the Tribunal's decision. The Court found that not only was the HRTO decision reasonable, but it was correct. Unionized employees in Ontario have the right to choose whether to pursue human rights claims at the HRTO or through the grievance procedure.

OECTA, represented by Cavalluzzo lawyers Chris Perri and Kylie Sier, supported Ms. Weilgosh's position throughout the motion and subsequent judicial review. It argued that its members should be entitled to choose the forum in which they pursue their own human rights claims.

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