Application for judicial review of a human rights tribunal decision was dismissed because the tribunal’s decision showed a rational chain of analysis

29. November 2023 0

Application for judicial review of a human rights tribunal decision was dismissed because the tribunal’s decision showed a rational chain of analysis.

Administrative law – Decisions reviewed – Human Rights Tribunal – Natural justice – Procedural requirements and fairness – Jurisdiction – Standard of review – Reasonableness – Human rights – Discrimination – Universities

Health-Engel v. Seneca College, [2023] O.J. No. 4324, 2023 ONSC 5441, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, October 4, 2023, R.A. Lococo, W.M. Matheson and S. Nishikawa JJ.

The applicant sought judicial review of a decision by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) dismissing her human rights complaint against Seneca College.

The applicant had enrolled in the Police Foundations Program at Seneca College in 2017. Seneca College notified her that she had been withdrawn from the program in 2019 in accordance with its Academic Policy, which also meant she would not receive Ontario Student Assistance Program funding.

The applicant complained to the HRTO that Seneca College had discriminated against her on the basis of various enumerated grounds. She identified housing and employment as the areas of discrimination. The HRTO gave her notice of an intent to dismiss her application for failing to identify any specific acts of discrimination by Seneca College. While she provided a further response, the HRTO held that she had not addressed the absence of a link with the stated discriminatory grounds and therefore dismissed the complaint (the “Decision”).

The applicant applied for a review of the Decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The question on judicial review was whether the applicant had established that the Decision was unreasonable. In the Decision, the HRTO noted that to fall within its jurisdiction, the application must contain allegations that connect Seneca College’s conduct to one or more prohibited grounds. The HRTO noted that the applicant asserted she was removed from her program because she had not passed enough courses and that discrimination must have been behind the removal. However, the HRTO found that the materials filed did not point to a connection between her removal from the program and the Human Rights Code grounds, beyond bald assertions, and the complaint therefore fell outside their jurisdiction.

The Court held that the Decision showed a rational chain of analysis and the requisite degree of justification, intelligibility and transparency. The application was dismissed.

This case was digested by JoAnne G. Barnum, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter.  If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact JoAnne G. Barnum at

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