Employee cannot advance both Human Rights and OHSA complaint that deal with same dispute

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has decided not to hear a disability‐discrimination complaint until a companion safety‐reprisal complaint has been resolved.

The employee’s human rights complaint alleged disability‐discrimination and alleged that he was harassed and laid off following his filing of a report with the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The employee also filed a complaint under the Occupational Health and Safety Act claiming that he was fired for attempting to ensure that his employer complied with the OHSA.

The Human Rights Tribunal decided that the facts and allegations in the human rights and health and safety complaints were the same, the legal issues overlapped, and the employee claimed similar remedies – reinstatement, lost wages, training, and general damages – in both complaints.

The Human Rights Tribunal therefore ordered that the hearing of the human rights complaint be deferred pending the resolution of the OHSA process.

Many employers have experienced employees who file multiple complaints about the same issue. This decision demonstrates that where the facts, issues, and remedies claimed are essentially the same, employers can force the employee to deal with one complaint at a time.

MacDougall v. Caldwell Enterprises (Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario):