Human Rights Office

Human Rights Office
Human Rights Office

Adams v. Big Brother and Sisters of Cornwall and District and Amanda Brisson [2012 OHRTD No 394]

What three questions does a Tribunal ask when considering whether it should hear a workplace harassment claim?



The applicant (Suzanne Adams) alleges that the personal respondent (Amanda Brisson) “yelled, threatened and attempted to bully” employees (including Adams) into doing work outside their assigned duties. Soon after Adams advised the President of the Board of Directors that she would be bringing forward a harassment claim under Bill 168, she was terminated.  She has an allegedly spotless employment record.

She brought her claim of reprisal (wrongful dismissal) forward to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.  At no time in her Application does she claim that the harassment she faced at Big Brother and Big Sisters of Cornwall and District amounted to a code-related ground.


-          Is it plain and obvious that this Application is outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal?


-          Yes


To determine whether it had jurisdiction to hear this case, the Tribunal asked itself three questions:

  1. Does the applicant claim to have experienced reprisal for claiming or enforcing a right under the Code?
  2. Does the applicant claim to have experienced reprisal for instituting or participating in proceedings under the Code?  
  3. Does the applicant claim to have experienced reprisal for refusing to infringe the right of another person under the Code

These were the answers to those questions:

  1. “Given that the applicant has not asserted that the conduct at issue was related to a ground under the Code, her attempts to remedy this conduct cannot be said to be either “claiming or enforcing  a right under the code” (para 8)
  2. “With respect to the second criteria, it is clear that the applicant was threatening  to (and eventually did) institute proceedings under the OHSA, but this is entirely distinct from instituting proceedings under the Code” (para 8)
  3. “She has not suggested that her job was terminated because she had refused to infringe the right to another person and, in any event this provision relates to a right under the Code.”  (para 8)