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Human rights offer direction and protections within the workplace, fostering fair and respectful environments where everyone has equal access to opportunities. If you believe you are facing discrimination or harassment at work, Ontario law allows you to file a human rights complaint and present your case before the Human Rights Tribunal (“HRTO”) if necessary.

In this blog, we provide a general guide to filing a human rights complaint and how to best navigate the process. This can be a complicated undertaking, and you may benefit greatly from the support of experienced employment lawyers. At Sultan Lawyers, we can guide you through the complexities of your case and defend your position.

Understanding Human Rights Law in Ontario

Ontario’s Human Rights Code protects people from discrimination and harassment in several areas, including employment, housing, and services such as education and healthcare. The Code prohibits discrimination based on protected grounds such as race, gender, age, religion, and disability. Harassment is also prohibited, which can include verbal or physical abuse, offensive jokes or comments, or other forms of demeaning behavior. If you experience discrimination or harassment at work, you may file a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). The HRTO is an independent agency that adjudicates human rights complaints and seeks to resolve them through mediation or a hearing.

  1. Contacting an Employment Lawyer

    Before filing a human rights complaint, in most circumstances, it is beneficial to seek the guidance of an experienced employment lawyer, who can help you understand your legal rights, legal options, and provide representation throughout the process if required. An employment lawyer can provide advice on the strengths of your case and the potential remedies you may be entitled to. At Sultan Lawyers, we offer flat-fee consultations to discuss and examine your matters, while also providing a detailed assessment of your case.

  2. Filing a Human Rights Complaint

    The first step in filing a human rights complaint is completing an application form, which is then submitted to the HRTO. The application includes:
    – Your personal information
    – Respondent information (i.e., the individual or organization you are filing the complaint against)
    – Grounds of discrimination
    – Specific allegations (i.e., the alleged discrimination or harassment)
    – Witnesses and evidence (if available) and
    – The remedy you are seeking.

    After receiving your application, the HRTO will review the details and may propose mediation as a means to resolve the dispute. If mediation proves unsuccessful, the HRTO will schedule a hearing to assess the merits of the case. At Sultan Lawyers, we can represent you in both mediation and at a hearing.

  3. Attending the HRTO Hearing

    An employment lawyer’s assistance can be highly valuable during a HRTO hearing due to the complexity of the legal procedures involved. The lawyer can help you prepare for the hearing, which includes gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and crafting your affidavit. Furthermore, the lawyer can act as your representative, communicating with the other party and the HRTO, negotiating legally enforceable settlements, and ensuring that the HRTO carries out its roles and procedures correctly.

  4. Seeking Legal Remedies

    If the HRTO finds that discrimination or harassment occurred, it may order a range of legal remedies to address the harm caused. These remedies may include monetary compensation for lost wages or damages to dignity and self-respect. Additionally, the employer may be required to make changes to its policies or practices to prevent future discrimination or harassment.


Initiating a human rights complaint in Ontario can be a challenging and complex process. That said, it’s recommended in most circumstances to seek the support of experienced employment lawyers who can offer effective representation. If you are facing discrimination or harassment at work, we encourage you to contact employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers, for a flat fee consultation to review remedies whether that involves proceeding with a claim or otherwise. Contact us via telephone 416-214-5111 or here.

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