Resolving the application through mediation to avoid an OLRB hearing
Shortly after the application is filed with the OLRB, a Labour Relations Officer (LRO) will contact the parties and try to help them reach a settlement that resolves the application, without the need for a hearing. The LRO will usually try to schedule a face-to-face meeting with all of the parties to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case.
The LRO does not decide the case. He/she meets with the parties to help resolve any issues, make inquiries, and explain the OLRB’s case law and practices to help the parties evaluate their chances of success, and the proposals that are offered. The LRO cannot, however, represent or give legal advice to any of the parties.
All of the information the LRO learns from the parties during the mediation process is kept strictly confidential in order to encourage open discussion. The LRO will not share what any party has said, his/her opinion about each party’s position, or any documents with the OLRB Vice-Chair who will be hearing the case, if the matter cannot be settled. A full hearing is a fresh start to the adjudication process.
If the LRO is able to help the parties come to an agreement, the terms of the agreement are put in writing, and the case is closed.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, a hearing will usually be scheduled.
If, at any time, the OLRB decides that an application does not support the orders or remedies the worker is asking for, even if all of the facts on the application are assumed to be true, the OLRB may dismiss the application without a consultation or hearing. If that happens, the OLRB will send its decision in writing to all of the parties, explaining why the application was dismissed.
Resolving the application at a hearing or consultation
If an application has merit to proceed, and if a settlement cannot be reached, the OLRB will hold a hearing with a Vice-Chair at the OLRB. OLRB hearings are formal legal proceedings where witnesses provide evidence under oath, and are cross-examined. Each party is responsible for bringing its witnesses to the hearing (by summons if necessary), bringing any documents that support their claim, and presenting their own case. All documents must be filed with the OLRB, and a copy must be delivered to each of the other parties, at least 10 days (excluding weekends and statutory holidays) before the first day of the hearing or consultation.
In some cases, the Vice-Chair may decide to hold a consultation instead of a full hearing. While it is still a legal proceeding, a consultation is more informal than a hearing. The Vice-Chair plays a much more active role in the consultation process by questioning the parties and their representatives, defining/re-defining the issues, sharing his/her perspective, and identifying the various issues the parties agree and disagree on. Although a consultation does not usually involve providing evidence under oath and cross-examining witnesses, the Vice-Chair may decide it is helpful for specific issues.
Each party’s legal rights will be determined at the hearing or the consultation. If a hearing or consultation has been scheduled, it is in your best interests to attend, and actively participate in the process. If you choose not to attend, the hearing or consultation will proceed as planned, and your rights will be determined without you. The Vice-Chair will decide who wins and loses, issue Board declarations and orders, may award money to the worker, etc., without taking any document that you filed into consideration.
After the hearing or consultation has ended, the Vice-Chair will provide the parties with a written decision that is legally binding on all of the parties that are involved in the application. If the Vice-Chair decides in the worker’s favour, he/she can order a wide range of remedies including giving the worker his/her job back (reinstatement), paying the worker lost wages, removing warning letters from the worker’s file, paying any other financial losses the worker may have suffered as a result of the employer’s alleged misconduct, etc. However, each party will be responsible for paying his/her own legal fees, if any. The OEA does not charge fees for any of its services.