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Human rights tribunal rejects claim from McDonald’s worker who also filed civil suit

by HR Law Canada

Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a discrimination claim from a former McDonald’s worker because he also filed a civil proceeding against his employer for wrongful dismissal and damages for mental distress.

Under the province’s Human Rights Code, complainants can’t pursue a claim through the tribunal if they have already done so in court and “the proceeding has not been finally determined or withdrawn, or the court has finally determined the issue of whether the right has been infringed, or the matter has been settled.”

The tribunal noted that the language above, from section 34(11) of the Code, is “not discretionary. The Application is barred if it falls within the circumstances described in that section.”

The worker argued that the civil claim contained no reliance on the Code and sought no remedies under it. And, while the tribunal agreed that was true, the Code “does not require than an applicant include an explicit reference to… the Code in their civil claim.”

It said the “essential factual underpinning of both proceedings is the same.” Simply put, they both involved termination of the worker’s employment and requests for financial compensation.

The tribunal said to allow the claim to proceed because specific sections of the Code are not explicitly pled in the civil action would be “an overly technical interpretation” and would defeat the purpose of section 34(11).

It ruled the application was barred.

For more information, see Koufis v. James Campbell Inc. o/a McDonald’s Restaurant, 2023 HRTO 475 (CanLII)

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