Before we start talking about mediation, let's cover off a couple of definitions.
At the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the applicant is the person who says they have experienced discrimination or harassment under the Human Rights Code. The respondent is the person or organization who the applicant says discriminated against them. The applicant and respondent are called "parties". The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is called the H-R-T-O for short.
All applicants and respondents at the HRTO are asked if they want to try mediation to resolve the human rights dispute without a hearing.
Mediation at the HRTO is voluntary. If you or the other side isn't interested in trying mediation, the case will usually be scheduled for a hearing instead.
The HRTO holds mediations in 13 towns and cities throughout Ontario.
You will find the date, time and location of your mediation on your notice of mediation.
Mediations are almost always scheduled for a half a day, either in the morning or the afternoon.
Your mediation could be at our hearing centre on Bay St. in Toronto, at a Landlord and Tenant Board office or other venue in London, Hamilton, St. Catharines or Ottawa, or a hotel or government building in other parts of the province.
When you arrive, check the room number on your notice of mediation. If the location has a receptionist or security guard, they can help direct you to your room.
Usually, the applicant is assigned to one room, and the respondent, or respondents, are assigned to another.
At the beginning, the mediator will introduce the mediation process. They might meet with the parties separately, or they may ask that the parties meet in the same room.
Before the mediation starts, you will need to sign a confidentiality agreement. This agreement means that nothing that is discussed at the mediation, including any offers to settle, can be shared with anyone who did not sign the agreement. The same is true if your case ends up going to a hearing - anything that was said at the mediation, cannot be introduced at the hearing.
After you sign the confidentiality agreement, the mediator will probably have you and the other party go to separate rooms. The mediator will start in the applicant's room and hear their story first.
The mediator will ask what remedies or results the applicant wants. Some examples of remedies are money, changes in policies or training at the organization, or building an accessible entrance.
After speaking with the applicant, the mediator will go to the respondent's room and listen to their story. The mediator will tell the respondent what remedies the applicant asked for. The respondent can either agree to what the applicant asked for or offer something else. The mediator may also contribute their own ideas for a settlement.
The mediator then goes back to the applicant to tell them what the respondent said. This process continues until an agreement is reached, until one of the parties decides not to continue, or the mediator feels that a settlement is unlikely.
To help you decide what kind of agreement is fair, a mediator often will explain what decision an HRTO adjudicator might make about your case if a hearing was held.
If you settle your case in mediation, you and the other party will have to sign two documents:
The first document is the minutes of settlement. It outlines the agreement that you have reached. No one will force you to sign this document, but any settlement that is signed is final.
The second document is a Confirmation of Settlement form, Form 25. It says that you have resolved the case and gives the HRTO permission to close your file.
After both parties have signed both documents, the HRTO will issue a letter confirming that a settlement has been reached, and closes the file.
In the future, if you believe the party isn't following the terms of the settlement, you can file an Application for Contravention of Settlement form.
For more information about mediation at the HRTO, visit our website at sjto.ca/hrto, or call:
Toll free at: 1-866-598-0322
or for TTY Bell Relay: 1-800-855-0511