In Ontario, if you lose in a civil lawsuit, you generally have to pay the legal fees of the winner. The rationale behind this is, in part, it prevents lawsuits that are not likely to succeed from being brought.
From a business perspective, focusing on Wrongful Dismissal Lawsuits, this is a good thing. Employees need to decide if they truly have a case that is likely to succeed.
Currently, if an employee makes a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and loses there are no cost consequences. This leads to many complaints against employers, which require employers to obtain and pay for counsel and creates an imbalance in the system.
Thankfully, there is currently a Private Members Bill winding its’ way through the Ontario Legislature that will correct this imbalance and allow costs to be awarded by the Tribunal.
To be clear: this should not stop valid complaints regarding discrimination and harassment from being advanced, however, it will stop the use of the Tribunal for claims that, in legal words “do not have the ring of truth” about them.
Inga B. Andriessen JD