The Ontario Labour Relations Board has held that Minutes of Settlement signed in the settlement of an application at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, barred the employee from advancing employment standards and health and safety complaints relating to the pre-settlement – but not post-settlement – period.

On March 31, 2014, the employee settled the HRTO application and gave a release of all claims “arising from my employment with” the employer.

She later filed a complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Labour under the Employment Standards Act and a reprisal complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The OLRB decided that the HRTO settlement barred any complaints relating to events occurring on or before March 31, 2014, the date of the HRTO settlement. However, it did not bar any complaints relating to events after that date.

This case is a reminder to employers that a release signed by an employee may not bar legal proceedings relating to events that occurred after the release was signed. Employers should, when entering into settlements, carefully consider the wording of the release to ensure that it is broad enough to adequately protect the employer.

Zhang v University of Ottawa, 2015 CanLII 68889 (ON LRB)