What happens at an HRTO hearing?
Because of COVID-19, of Ontario (HRTO) hearings and mediations are not in person. They are held by telephone, Zoom video conference, or in writing. For Zoom hearings and mediations, you have to connect to the Zoom link 10 minutes before your hearing starts. You may be able to use a smartphone, but the HRTO recommends a computer.
A hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) is like a trial in court. This is when you and the Respondent both present your case to a Tribunal member. The member is like a judge. Your goal at the hearing is to prove to the member that the Respondent discriminated against you.
The member listens to both you and the Respondent. They also listen to any witnesses and they look at any other evidence you or the Respondent have. After listening to everyone and looking at all the evidence, the member makes a decision.
There are a few main things that happen at an HRTO hearing:
- An option to try mediation.
- Deal with preliminary issues such as if a witness hasn't arrived yet or you haven't received copies of the Respondent's evidence.
- You and the Respondent each make an opening statement to briefly explain the case to the Tribunal member.
- You and the Respondent each ask witnesses questions about what they know. This is known as “oral evidence”. You will also ask witnesses to describe any evidence like photos or documents.
- You and the Respondent each make a closing statement to show how the evidence supports your side of the case.
- Get a decision.
Watch a hearing
Before your hearing, it is helpful to get familiar with how hearings work. One way to do this is to watch a real hearing from another case. Most HRTO hearings are open to the public. You can call the HRTO and ask them when and where you can watch a hearing. The process may be different during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ask for an interpreter or accommodation
If you need an interpreter or a special arrangement because of a , contact the HRTO’s Registrar’s Office before your hearing to let them know. For example, if you can't hear very well, the HRTO can arrange for a sign language interpreter. The legal word for this special arrangement is “”.