Call Us Now


Damages in Court for Human Rights Violations

Posted On: January, 23 2015

In September 2013, Justice Grace of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded a plaintiff in a wrongful dismissal case $20,000 in damages for breach of the Ontario Human Rights Code. This appears to the be first ever decision under s. 46.1 of the Code, which permits courts to award damages for violations of Code rights.

Prior to 2008, Ontario did not permit courts to award damages for breach of the Code. In 2008, s. 46.1 of the Code was enacted to provide a civil remedy for human rights violations.  This created a new substantive jurisdiction for Ontario courts to award monetary compensation and/or restitution for a breach of the Code.

It is important to note that s. 46.1 does not permit a person to commence an action based solely on a breach of the Code. In order to utilize s. 46.1, a plaintiff must plead a recognized civil cause of action as well as a breach of the Code.  This is most likely to arise in circumstances where there is a human rights element to a wrongful or constructive dismissal claim.  For example, an employee might utilize s. 46.1 if she alleges that she has been terminated from her job and her disability was a factor in her termination.

Those were precisely the facts in Wilson v. Solis Mexican Foods Inc, 2013 ONSC 5799.  After 16 months of employment as a business analyst, Ms. Wilson was dismissed without cause.  Ms. Wilson alleged that she was terminated, at least in part, because of an ongoing back ailment. She therefore claimed that her rights under Part I of the Code were infringed and that she should be awarded damages pursuant to s. 46.1.

The Court noted that any decision to terminate an employee which is made, in whole or in part, on the basis of a disability is discriminatory and contrary to the Code.  Citing Chen v. Ingenierie Electro-Optique Exfo Inc., the decision incorporates the well-established principle in human rights law that “the protected ground need only be one factor in the decision made that adversely affected the [employee]; it does not have to be the only or primary reason.”

In this case, Justice Grace concluded “without hesitation” that the decision to terminate the plaintiff started with her complaints of back pain. Thus, the Court found that Ms. Wilson was terminated in whole or significant part because of her disability, and her right to equal treatment was violated in breach of Part I, s. 5(1) of the Code.

When evaluating the plaintiff’s discrimination claim, the Court considered the following facts:

  • the employer’s regard for the plaintiff changed around the time that she raised her back issues;
  • no accommodation was offered or seemingly even considered (the employer insisted that there be a “complete recovery” before the plaintiff’s return);
  • the employer’s purported reason for termination, an “impending divestiture”, was not proven in any document proffered at trial and did not  feature in a single communication with the plaintiff before her termination.

Having found a breach of the Code, the court exercised its jurisdiction under s. 46.1 and granted a global award of $20,000.


Contact Us



  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by SB

    "I just wanted to let you know how happy I am with the outcome and how very grateful I am for the guidance and support that you and your team provided."
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by Google user

    "Patrick James is really a great lawyer who is smart and great to deal with. He's been our litigation counsel for over 5 years on several different matters. Patrick recently gave our company great strategic advice that resulted in a big commercial litigation win for our company. He's fierce, tenacious, and really cares about getting the best outcome for his clients."
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by Google user

    "Patrick is a very good lawyer. He recently successfully defended a lawsuit against my company and has pursued several litigation claims for us in the past. All claims settled input favour. Mr. James is smart and quickly gives you great strategic advice. Patrick has been a real asset to our business."
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by Sandra L.

    "Andrew Wray and Patrick James recently helped settle a difficult situation for me and my family. The results were exactly what we were hoping for. They are honest, strategic and will provide you with the best advice for you and your financial situation. I highly recommend them to everyone I know."
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by Mark C.

    "Their team is highly focused and incredibly professional - from our experience it would be difficult not to believe that Pinto Wray James are one of Ontario's leading Firms in Labor and Employment law. The mindful client care and complete understanding of the case eased fears and the stress that comes with any legal dispute. Expect to find high level smartly crafted legal solutions at Pinto Wray James LLP - couldn't recommend more."
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by Sherry C.

    "Patrick is knowledgeable, strategic, supportive, and patient. His guidance and advice helped me to maintain focus and to keep things in perspective. His experience and keen perception provides him with an edge that allows him to assess the situation, the people involved, and to offer a strategic resolution that works best for all involved. If you ever require legal advice and assistance, I highly recommend him and his team. They will be there 100% for you."
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by Christian V.

    "Patrick is a fearless advocate for diverse clients. His strategic approach, and his empathy, are what set him apart as a litigator, and champion of the underdog."
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by A Google User

    "I have no hesitation recommending Andrew Wray of Pinto Wray James LLP. He provided me with legal advice regarding an employment law issue and his council was practical and honest. Andrew's approach is very much one of blending legal excellence with good common sense. An excellent lawyer!"
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto James Reviewed by Larry S.

    "Patrick listens to his clients and shows compassion, empathy and professionalism. He cares deeply that the individual that has been wrongfully terminated gets the best judgment available to him. I would not hesitate in recommending him to friends or family."