Served A Human Rights Tribunal Application Lately? The New HRTO will represent how AODA related issues will be managed and heard in the opinion of labour lawyers and the experts at Optimal Performance Consultants
It’s been more than two years now since the Human Rights Amendment Act, S.O., c. 30 came into force in Ontario creating a new human rights process. This new process allows applicants to file their Applications directly with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). For the fiscal year 2009 -2010, 75% of Applications filed with the HRTO involved allegations of discrimination in the area of employment. Of those over 34% (the majority) related to lack of accommodation and accessibility in the workplace.
Part of the HRTO’s mandate is to provide fair, just and expeditious resolution on the merits of an application. The process the HRTO has instituted to fulfill its mandate is by examining the ‘life of’ several typical applications; from receiving an application, through the various stages up to resolution. For the fiscal year 2009-1010 there are numerous cases in which workers have alleged discrimination in employment AND have brought their claims to multiple venues including grievances, civil suits, WSIB and the WSIAT.
With the AODA Customer Service now fully on its way (completed for Public Entities) and in process for most Private Companies in Ontario, coupled with the newly released Integrated Standards including Employment, the percentage of cases related to disability & lack of accessibility will skyrocket.
It should now be clear to our readers of this Blog that the changes to the Ontario Human Rights was in large measure made with the AODA “fallout” being anticipated. More militant sub-groups in the disabled communities will test businesses with public spaces such as shopping malls, restaurants and retail as well as sports arenas, cultural centres and common underground pathways such as Toronto’s path system. The more outspoken employees with disabilities will also be testing the employment waters and will most likely test these through multiple venues including Human Rights, the media, civil cases, WSIB/WSIAT and private insurance companies.
The key to this Blog is not to cause our readers and clients to panic. Rather this is the sounding bell to cause Human Resources Managers & Directors, Facility Managers, Real Estate and Property Managers, IT, Communications and Marketing, Architects and Design firms to come together and develop a process to cause full compliance with the Customer Service, Transportation, Communications and Employment of the AODA over the next number of months and before the Ontario Build Code changes are released. The Administrative Penalties which will be levied against employers who do not comply are one thing; but the cost and public embarrassment resulting from Human Rights complaints will go a long way to damaging the well earned reputation of your company & organization. Now is the time to organize and move the process along using a strategic, operationally based process at all levels of management to the front of client, customer service employee in your organization.
The time is now to move this process along as it will take a number of months to enhance your current diversity, ergonomic and universal design and AODA strategies as well as to provide education and training for ALL of your employees. For more information about the Human Rights Tribunals in Ontario and how it will become the venue of choice regarding AODA related complaints please visit us at www.optimalperformance.ca or contact us at AODA@OptimalPerformance.ca
JE Sleeth OPC Inc Olga Dosis OPC Inc AODA Expert Carrie DeMaeyer Ergonomic Manager