Check your spam folder: Human rights tribunal rescinds interim decision after employer claims it didn’t receive communications

Photo: Canva/HR Law Canada

Check your spam folders. That’s the message coming out of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal after it rescinded an interim decision after the employer respondent said it didn’t receive the notice of application or the “No Response Letters” from the tribunal.

“It is the responsibility of the parties to check their emails regularly including their spam folders and also follow-up with the tribunal in case a response is not received while expecting one,” its said.

The worker in this case, SB, alleged various forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment and pregnancy, age-based bias, and reprisal against her former employer, Future Electronics.

The tribunal’s interim decision, issued on Feb. 7, 2023, found the employer to be in default due to its failure to comply with Rule 5.5 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure. Consequently, the tribunal proceeded with the case without the employer’s participation, considering its waiver of rights to notice and involvement in the proceedings.

Email from employer’s counsel

However, the tribunal’s reconsideration was prompted by an email received from the employer’s counsel on March 14, 2023, expressing its intention to file a request for setting aside the interim decision. Following this, the employer formally submitted a Form 20 requesting reconsideration on May 23, 2023.

Upon careful analysis of the facts and provisions, the tribunal decided to rescind the interim decision, allowing the respondent to participate fully in the ongoing proceedings.

The tribunal emphasized its commitment to fair, just, and expeditious resolutions and recognized the employer’s claim of potential non-receipt of critical application-related notices. Although SB experienced delays due to the employer’s lack of response, the tribunal determined that allowing the respondent to participate at this stage would not further impede progress.

Mediation scheduled

To facilitate a productive resolution, the tribunal scheduled a half-day mediation-adjudication, as agreed upon by both parties. The videoconference session will be conducted to explore potential settlement possibilities, it said.

The tribunal’s order also entails the submission of a mediation-adjudication agreement by the parties to the registrar promptly. Additionally, a notice of hearing has been scheduled for a two-day merits hearing, set to take place via videoconference. The disclosure of relevant information under specific rules has been outlined to ensure a fair and comprehensive hearing process.

The parties involved have been duly notified, and the tribunal said it remains committed to upholding the principles of fairness and justice throughout the proceedings.

“In these particular circumstances, I find that it would be unfair to the respondent for the Tribunal to proceed knowing that the respondent wishes to participate in the proceeding and the Application is still at an early stage of the proceedings,” it said. “However, the parties should understand that I have exercised discretion in this matter to be fair to all parties.

For more information, see Brody v. Future Electronics, 2023 HRTO 923 (CanLII)

Author