Tribunal dismisses human rights claim against Regional Municipality of Waterloo by former worker who made ‘bald allegations’

An aerial view of downtown Waterloo, Ont. Photo: HStiver/Getty Images/Canva

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has dismissed an application against the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and one of its employees that alleged employment discrimination due to disability and reprisal.

The applicant, whose identity has not been disclosed, filed a complaint asserting they had been discriminated against in their treatment by the respondents in relation to their employment. The alleged incidents took place around the termination letter of Oct. 7, 2020, and the applicant’s claim of being constructively dismissed, having quit on Sept. 1, 2020.

On Jan. 13, 2023, the tribunal had sent a Notice of Intent to Dismiss the Application to the applicant. The notice explained that the application failed to identify specific incidents of discrimination or explain how the last alleged incident on Oct. 7, 2020, was discriminatory within the meaning of the Human Rights Code.

The applicant alleged there was a failure to investigate their workplace concerns and that the respondents had not provided the appropriate level of support. Essentially, they just provided “bald allegations of adverse treatment in being constructively dismissed.”

The tribunal’s analysis noted that the applicant’s submissions did not clearly articulate why they believed the treatment they received from the respondents was based on factors recognized under the code. The application also mentioned discrimination under section 8 of the code based on “reprisal or threat of reprisal” but lacked details on how the respondent’s behavior was related to claiming or enforcing a right under the code, or other related actions.

In response to the Notice, the applicant filed submissions, but the tribunal found them unresponsive to the issues identified. The decision to dismiss was made following a written hearing, consistent with established legal precedents that do not require an oral hearing on the issue of jurisdiction.

The tribunal’s decision was based on the principles that an application must fall within the tribunal’s jurisdiction and must provide more than a “bald assertion” linking the respondents’ actions to discriminatory grounds.

Several legal precedents were cited, including the recent Mehedi v. Mondalez Bakery, 2023 ONSC 1737, where the tribunal’s decision to dismiss an Application for lack of jurisdiction was deemed reasonable.

In this particular case, the tribunal concluded that the applicant’s allegations were not connected to any discriminatory factors. The applicant’s claim that the termination and alleged failures to act were based on discriminatory factors were found to be mere allegations without supporting evidence.

The tribunal’s order thus dismissed the application, finding that the applicant failed to provide a factual basis linking their grounds to the respondents’ actions, and therefore, the case did not fall within the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

This ruling underscores the importance of clearly establishing links between alleged discriminatory actions and the specific grounds protected under the Human Rights Code.

For more information, see Baker v. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo, 2023 HRTO 1120 (CanLII)