The recent decision in Martin v Trinity United Church, 2019 HRTO 726 highlights limitation periods and the applicable factors to determine what constitutes a “series of incidents” under Ontario’s Human Rights Code (“Code”).
Limitation Period under Ontario’s Code
Section 34 of the Code provides that a person who believes that his or her rights under Part I of the Code have been infringed must apply to the Tribunal:
(a) Within one year after the incident to which the application relates; or
(b) If there was a series of incidents, within one year after the last incident in the series.
Late applications are allowed if the Tribunal is satisfied that the delay was incurred in good faith and no substantial prejudice will result to any person affected by the delay.
Determining a “Series of Incidents”
In order to establish that discrimination constituted a “series of incidents,” there must be a connection or nexus between the incidents, such as a pattern of conduct or common theme, and similar parties and/or circumstances — as opposed to incidents that involve discrete or separate issues, completely different facts, and engage a different ground under the Code [para 23; Baisa v Skills for Change, 2010 HRTO 1621; Pakarian v Chen, 2010 HRTO 457].
In Garrie v Janus Joan Inc., 2012 HRTO 1955, the Tribunal set out that determining whether or not allegations of discrimination are timely because they relate to a “series of incidents” includes evaluating the following questions [para 24]:
a) What is the last alleged incident of discrimination to which the Application relates?
b) Do the allegations relate to a series of separate and independent incidents of discrimination or do they relate to the continuing effect of a single incident of discrimination?
c) What is the nature or character of the alleged discrimination and is it part of a series of incidents of a similar nature or character?
d) What is the temporal gap between alleged incidents of discrimination?