Can a Case Alleging Discrimination Be Heard In the Courts?

A Court Is Authorized to Hear a Case Involving a Discrimination Issue If Other Issues Are Also Part of the Case.

Understanding the Court Jurisdiction to Adjudicate Discrimination Cases Which Involve Mixed Law Issues

Lawsuit Document A legal case involving discrimination issues may be brought within the court system rather than brought to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario if the case involves mixed legal issues; however, if the legal issues are solely human rights issues, then the courts must decline jurisdiction and decline to hear the case.

The Law

The authority for a court, rather than the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, to adjudicate a case that alleges discrimination issues contrary to the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19 is prescribed at section 46.1(1); however, this jurisdiction, meaning authority, is provided to the courts only where legal cases involve mixed issues.  If the legal case solely alleges discrimination issues, per section 46.1(2) of the Human Rights Code, the courts lack jurisdiction and therefore the case is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Tribunal.  Specifically, the Human Rights Code states:

Civil remedy

46.1 (1) If, in a civil proceeding in a court, the court finds that a party to the proceeding has infringed a right under Part I of another party to the proceeding, the court may make either of the following orders, or both:

1. An order directing the party who infringed the right to pay monetary compensation to the party whose right was infringed for loss arising out of the infringement, including compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.

2. An order directing the party who infringed the right to make restitution to the party whose right was infringed, other than through monetary compensation, for loss arising out of the infringement, including restitution for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.


(2) Subsection (1) does not permit a person to commence an action based solely on an infringement of a right under Part I.

The lack of jurisdiction for a court to hear a case solely alleging discrimination issues was confirmed in the case of Lee v. Simmons et al., 2017 ONSC 4980, wherein it was said:

[1]  The Defendant, Gene Simmons brings this motion seeking an order dismissing this action as against him.

[2]  The Plaintiff’s claim originates from his alleged wrongful ejection from a concert of the rock band Kiss which was held on July 25, 2013 at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant Simmons discriminated against him by having him removed from the concert because Simmons did not like the Plaintiff’s ethnicity.  The Plaintiff claims that his removal caused him to be shocked, stunned, embarrassed, scared and humiliated. Once escorted outside the seated area of the arena, the Plaintiff claims having been surrounded, harassed, intimidated, assaulted and battered by the additional security staff.

[3]  However, the Plaintiff’s claim against the Defendant Simmons is based on discrimination due to his race in accordance with s. 46.1 of the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, (the “Code”) Section 46.1(2) clearly states that an action cannot be commenced solely on an infringement of a right protected under Part 1 of the Code which include both race and ethnicity.

[4]  For the reasons which follow, I conclude that s. 46.1(2) of the Code prohibits the Plaintiff from commencing a claim against the Defendant Simmons given that his claim is based solely on an infringement of a right under Part 1 of the Code.

Summary Comment

A court may hear legal cases that involve issues of discrimination contrary to the Human Rights Code if other issues beyond discrimination issues, such as contract law issues or tort law issues, among others, are also claimed.

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