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What should I do if I have a hearing or consultation with the Ontario Labour Relations Board?

Before you have a hearing or consultation at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), you must:

  • Give your application to the OLRB. This is called "filing" your application.
  • Work with a Labour Relations Officer to see if you and your employer can agree on a solution.
  • Get a Notice of Consultation or Hearing from the OLRB. The Notice of Consultation or Hearing tells you where and when your consultation or hearing will happen.

Your role

Consultations are less formal than hearings. At a consultation, your job is to answer the Vice-Chair's questions about what happened. The Vice-Chair makes decisions at the OLRB.

At a hearing, you have a bigger role. You can make statements, bring witnesses, and question your employer's witnesses.

You should bring a few copies of any documents you want to use as evidence because you might have to give them to other people who are there. Evidence is information or documents that prove what happened.

How to do well at your hearing or consultation

Evidence is very important in consultations and hearings. Bring as much evidence as you can to prove everything that happened.

When you show the Vice-Chair a document as evidence, you should be able to explain what it proves and why it matters.

You could also bring witnesses. Your witnesses will be able to tell the Vice-Chair what they saw or heard. Your employer will also be able to ask them questions.

Before your hearing, review the facts about your complaint. Decide what's most important so you can focus on that. Write down all the events that happened, in the order they happened. This can help you explain things more clearly.

When you're at your consultation or hearing, try to stay calm as you present your information.

If you don't understand what’s happening, you can ask the Vice-Chair a question.

Make sure you talk about all the facts that are important.

Get legal help

If you don't have a union, you should try to get legal help with your OLRB claim.

A lawyer can give you advice about the law, draft your application, and represent you in your hearing.

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.

JusticeNet is a program for Canadians with low or moderate incomes. It connects people with lawyers and paralegals who charge lower legal fees based on your income.

You could also contact the Workers' Health & Safety Legal Clinic, which helps people with low incomes who are having health and safety problems at work.

If you've been injured or punished by your employer for complaining about harassment, you can also contact the Office of the Worker Adviser. They can give you information and legal advice if you don't have a union.

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Next Steps: 

1. Gather your evidence

Evidence is information or documents that prove what happened. At your consultation or hearing, it's important to have evidence that proves what happened.

Documents

Keep track of any documents that could help you prove what happened and keep them in a safe place.

Make notes about conversations and keep track of dates when things happen.

Here are some of the documents you might need:

  • pay stubs
  • a decision made by a Ministry of Labour inspector, if you have one
  • letters from your employer, including any disciplinary letters
  • your employment contract
  • notes from meetings or conversations with other people at work
  • written instructions your employer gave you
  • safety materials your employer gave you, for example, a copy of your workplace health and safety policy

Make a few copies of your documents. You need a copy for yourself and you might need to give a copy to others, like your employer, an inspector, or the Vice-Chair. Bring copies to your consultation or hearing.

At least 10 business days before your hearing or consultation, you must send the Ontario Labour Relations Board and your employer a copy of any documents you want to use as evidence in your hearing.

Witnesses

Witnesses are people who come to the hearing and tell what they know about what happened. Witnesses must promise to tell the truth at the hearing.

If there is someone besides you and your employer who you want to be a witness, you can ask them to come. If they do not agree, you can ask the Board to issue a summons. A summons is a document that tells a witness that they must come to the hearing.

Ask for a summons for each witness you want to attend the hearing. You can also ask a witness to bring documents with them to the hearing.

If you need a summons, you should ask the Board for it as soon as you can. You have to give the summons to the witness in person. And you might have to pay for the witness to come to the hearing.

2. Go to the pre-hearing conference

The person who makes decisions at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) is called a Vice-Chair.

The Vice-Chair contacts you about when you'll have a pre-hearing conference.

This pre-hearing conference could happen in person or by telephone. It's very short and you don't need to give evidence or start explaining why you made your complaint.

You, your employer, your lawyers, and the Vice-Chair talk about what the issues will be in your hearing or consultation.

This is a good time to ask questions about the process . The Vice-Chair will probably tell you what they think the issues are related to your complaint. Those issues should be the main things you talk about at your consultation or hearing.

The Vice-Chair might tell you or your employer to do something before your hearing or consultation. Make sure you follow their instructions. For example, they might tell you to send your employer a copy of some of your documents.

If you don't understand what the Vice-Chair tells you to do, ask them to explain it.

You may need

3. Go to your consultation or hearing

Consultations

A consultation is not like being in court.

At a consultation, you and your employer meet with a Vice-Chair. If you have a lawyer, they should go with you.

The Vice-Chair asks you for evidence on specific issues.

You should bring your documents with you, but you don't usually need witnesses.

The Vice-Chair leads the consultation. You should answer their questions honestly. Try to explain what happened. Give your evidence calmly and clearly.

Hearings

Hearings have more rules than consultations. You have to help the Vice-Chair to understand what your complaint is and what decision you want them to make. You do this by explaining what happened and giving evidence.

You should bring all of your documents and witnesses to the hearing.

Remember to stay calm and be respectful to the Vice-Chair. And make sure you talk about all the important facts.

Opening statement

At the start of the hearing, you make a short "opening statement". A statement is a short summary of what happened and what you want. It should only be a few minutes long.

When you make a statement, stand up and talk directly to the Vice-Chair.

Your employer also makes an opening statement.

Witnesses testify

Then, you and your witnesses give evidence. This is called "testifying". You can ask your witnesses questions. And your employer can ask them questions too.

You should show the Vice-Chair any documents that help prove what happened.

If your employer brings witnesses, you can ask them questions too.

Closing statement

Once you and your employer give your evidence, you give a "closing statement". Use your closing statement to summarize what happened and what you want. Your employer also makes a closing statement.

4. Get a decision

Whether you have a hearing or a consultation, the Vice-Chair makes a decision and you get a written copy it.

Both you and your employer must follow what the decision says.

Reviewed: 
October, 2015

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