BY SIMRAN BAKSHI, STUDENT-AT-LAW, WISE LAW OFFICE
The enactment of section 46.1 of the
However, though the provision has now been in force for more than five years, damages have been awarded for discrimination in only one, rather recent case. Far from opening the floodgates of human rights litigation in civil proceedings, plaintiffs appear to be resorting to s.46.1 of the Code rather cautiously. A review of Ontario’s human rights system revealed that as of 2012 there had been only 19 reported cases in total which addressed human rights within a civil action, of which 14 cases specifically relied upon s.46.1 of the Code. None of these cases rendered a finding of discrimination.
- The status of a human rights claim if the accompanying civil cause of action is dismissed;
- Whether the Court will award damages for discrimination if s.46.1 has not been expressly pleaded;
- How the Court will exercise its jurisdiction to award non-monetary restitution (i.e. reinstatement; systemic remedies etc.)?
- The range and quantum of damages the Court may award for discrimination;
- Whether the limitation period for bringing human rights claims pursuant to s.46.1 will extend to two years, given that it accompanies a civil cause of action?
While this requirement is straightforward in itself, questions emerge as to what the status of a human rights claim becomes if the underlying civil cause of action is dismissed. Case law suggests that where a civil cause of action is struck down prior to trial, the accompanying human rights claim cannot survive on its own.
What is interesting however is that if a human rights application is commenced at the Tribunal prior to any decisions being rendered on a motion to dismiss a civil claim (recall that this may often occur as the limitation period for bringing an application pursuant to the Code is only one year), the application may be barred pursuant to s. 34(11) of the Code.
As a result, an individual may be left with no remedy for an alleged human rights violation purely on procedural grounds. In the case of Aba-Alkhail v
 With respect to the applicant’s argument that he would be left with no human rights redress if both the civil suit and the Application are dismissed, I note that the Divisional Court recently emphasized that even in those circumstances section 34(11) is not discretionary and bars an application from proceeding: Grogan v. Toronto District School Board, 2012 ONSC 319. The Tribunal does not have jurisdiction and, to paraphrase the Divisional Court, it does not matter that the civil action could be withdrawn or dismissed. “In short, s.34(11) requires an applicant to choose between the Tribunal and a (concurrent) civil action”: see para. 48…There has yet to be a case in which damages have been awarded for a human rights claim, notwithstanding that the accompanying civil cause of action has been dismissed at trial. Presumably, given the framing of s.46.1, a human rights claim can still succeed as a separate cause of action. The Court affirms this position (although somewhat in obiter) in the case of Mykki Cavic v Costco WholesaleCanada Limited, 2012 ONSC 5307:
 The defendant has argued that in the event that I dismiss the plaintiff's claim for wrongful dismissal, I need not determine the issue of breach of the Human Rights Code. It is the position of the plaintiff that this is part of the claim and must be determined. I treat this claim as separate from the wrongful dismissal claim and will deal with the issue below.
Pleading the Code:
Some Guidance –
v Solis Mexican Foods Wilson
 First in this case, the plaintiff lost “the right to be free from discrimination” and experienced “victimization”. Second, the defendant’s breach of the statute is serious. The defendant orchestrated the dismissal and was disingenuous at various times both before and during termination.