The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has concurrent jurisdiction over human rights issues that arise in a unionized workplace. This means that the HRTO can hear and make decisions on human rights complaints that also involve issues related to the collective bargaining process.
One example of this is the case of Weilgosh v. London District Catholic School Board, 2022 HRTO 1194. In this case, the complainant, Mr. Weilgosh, alleged that he had been subjected to discrimination on the basis of his disability by his employer, the London District Catholic School Board. He also claimed that the discrimination he faced was a violation of his rights under the collective agreement between the school board and the union representing its employees.
The school board argued that the HRTO did not have jurisdiction to hear the complaint because it involved issues related to the collective agreement, and that the matter should be dealt with through the grievance process provided for in the agreement. However, the HRTO disagreed and found that it did have concurrent jurisdiction to hear the complaint.
In making this decision, the HRTO noted that the collective agreement did not provide an adequate remedy for the discrimination that Mr. Weilgosh had experienced. The HRTO also noted that the complaint involved a violation of human rights that could not be resolved through the grievance process, and that it was in the public interest to hear the complaint and make a decision on the matter.
The HRTO ultimately found that the school board had discriminated against Mr. Weilgosh on the basis of his disability and ordered the school board to pay him damages.
This case serves as an important reminder that the HRTO has concurrent jurisdiction over human rights issues that arise in a unionized workplace and that it can hear and make decisions on complaints that also involve issues related to the collective bargaining process. It also highlights that collective agreements do not always provide an adequate remedy for human rights violations and that the HRTO can provide a fair and effective process for resolving such disputes.