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In Ontario, The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) prohibits employers from penalizing workers in reprisal for obeying the law or exercising their rights.

Under section 50 of the OHSA, an employer cannot

  • dismiss (or threaten to dismiss) a worker

  • discipline or suspend a worker (or threaten to do so)

  • impose (or threaten to impose) any penalty upon a worker, or

  • intimidate or coerce a worker…

because a worker has

  • followed the OHSA and regulations

  • exercised rights under the OHSA, including the right to refuse unsafe work

  • asked the employer to follow the OHSA and regulations.

A worker also cannot be penalized for

  • providing information to a Ministry of Labour inspector

  • following a Ministry of Labour inspector’s order, or

  • testifying at a hearing about OHSA enforcement

    • in court

    • before the Ontario Labour Relations Board

    • before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO)

    • at a coroner’s inquest

    • at a grievance arbitration, and

    • in certain other hearings.


A worker who believes that the employer has reprised against him or her may file a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). A unionized worker may choose to ask the union to file a grievance under the collective agreement or to seek its help in filing a complaint directly on the worker’s behalf with the OLRB. Alternatively, a worker claiming to have been fired in an OHSA-related reprisal may consent to having a Ministry of Labour inspector refer the reprisal allegation to the OLRB, if

  • the allegation has not already been dealt with by arbitration, and

  • the worker has not filed a complaint to the OLRB.

The inspector will also provide copies of the referral to the employer, trade union (if any) and any other organizations affected by the alleged reprisal. However, the Ministry of Labour will not act as the worker’s representative.

For more information, visit SLSPC has successfully represented clients targeted for reprisals due to unsafe working conditions resulting in serious injury, illness, and impairment. Call 416-644-3999 or for a free and confidential consultation.

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