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Human rights tribunal rejects bid to add company president as ‘personal respondent’ in sex discrimination claim

by HR Law Canada

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has rejected a bid by a worker to add a personal respondent to her sex discrimination claim against her former employer.

The applicant, BR, made a request to add an individual — VB, the company’s president and majority shareholder — as a personal respondent to her claim against Amptek Electric Ltd.

The case centers on allegations of discrimination due to sex, including sexual harassment and pregnancy, as well as reprisal, in violation of the Human Rights Code. The applicant, who had initially filed the application against Amptek Electric Inc., sought to hold VB personally accountable, claiming his actions and decisions were influenced by his personal opinions.

The Tribunal’s decision was guided by established criteria and precedents, such as the Smyth v. Toronto Police Services and Sigrist and Carson v. London District Catholic School Board cases, which outline the conditions under which an individual can be added as a respondent.

These conditions include whether the allegations could support a Code violation by the proposed respondent, if there’s a compelling reason to include them alongside an organization, and whether adding them would contribute to a fair resolution.

The Tribunal concluded that adding VB as a respondent was unnecessary for a just resolution of the case. The ruling emphasized that Amptek Electric Inc., already named in the application, is deemed liable for any actions VB, its majority shareholder and president, may have taken in the course of his employment that are alleged to violate the Human Rights Code.

The Tribunal found no compelling juridical reason to add VB as a personal respondent, stating that the corporation has the capacity to address and remedy the alleged infringement.

“The Corporation is deemed liable for any acts undertaken by (VB) that are the subject of this Application,” it said. “The current respondent has the ability to respond to and/or remedy the alleged Code violation.”

For more information, see Reeder v. Aptek Electric Ltd., 2024 HRTO 225 (CanLII).

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