There are laws to protect workers who want to claim their rights. But employers sometimes don't follow these laws.
To help you decide what to do, you may want to talk to someone and find out about:
- your legal options
- what result you want to get
- how strong your claim is
- what evidence you will need
- how long it might take to get a result
- what rights your employer has
A lawyer or legal worker may be able to:
- help you understand which laws apply to you
- explain your legal rights and responsibilities
- let you know how long a legal process might take
- help you make an agreement with an employer
It's important to prepare before you speak to a lawyer or legal worker. Think about what questions you need them to answer and have any related documents or information with you.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer, here are some other places where you can get legal help.
Law Society Referral Service
The Law Society Referral Service can give you the name of a lawyer or paralegal you can consult with for free, for up to 30 minutes.
When you talk to the lawyer or paralegal, they can help you figure out what your rights are and what options you have.
Use the Law Society's online request form to get the name of a lawyer or paralegal that you then contact.
JusticeNet is a program for Canadians with low or moderate incomes. It connects people with lawyers and paralegals who charge lower legal fees.
You can go to their website or call them at 1-866-919-3219 to get names of lawyers or paralegals in your area.
You then call a lawyer or paralegal and ask if they can help you. They'll ask you for information about your income to figure out if you are eligible.
To be eligible, your net family income must be under $59,000 a year and you must be having financial difficulties.
Pro Bono Law Ontario
Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO) offers a free program to help people who are representing themselves at the Small Claims Court or Superior Court.
You may be able to get legal advice over the phone or in person at their offices in Toronto and Ottawa. In some cases, they may be able to represent you in court.
You have to have a low income and meet all of their eligibility requirements.
Community legal clinics
There are community legal clinics across Ontario that provide free legal services to people with low incomes.
At these clinics, lawyers, community legal workers, and law students help people with a variety of legal problems, like social assistance, housing, and workers' rights.
To get help from a clinic:
- your legal issue must be one the clinic deals with
- you must live in the area the clinic serves
- your income and assets can't be more than a certain amount
Most legal clinics also give brief advice or what’s called "summary advice", without asking about your financial situation.
And if your local clinic can't help you, they may be able to refer you to someone in your community who can.
The first step is to find your local clinic.
Community legal clinics for workers
Some community legal clinics help people only with work-related problems.
Workers’ Health & Safety Legal Clinic helps people who are having health and safety problems at work.
If you think you've been discriminated against at work, you can contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for free legal advice and information.
The Centre can help you figure out:
- whether to make a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
- what might help you prove that an employer discriminated against you
The Centre also helps people when they apply to the Tribunal and, in some cases, at the Tribunal.
You can also check out the Centre's online tool Can We Help You?
The Workers' Action Centre gives workers information and advice free of charge.
Call their Workers' Rights Information Line at 416-531-0778 to get:
- information about your rights at work
- help figuring out how to deal with a problem
They have legal information in a number of languages and on many topics like job scams, temp agencies, workplace harassment, working as an independent contractor or employee, and undocumented workers.
The Office of the Worker Adviser helps workers who are not in a union and who have been:
- injured at work
- threatened or punished for following health and safety laws
They have 16 offices in Ontario and their services are free and confidential.
They have toll-free numbers that you can call for different types of issues.
You can also contact an office that's close to you.