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A Settlement to Accommodate a Disability Must Be in Writing

John Taite and his Ottawa condominium corporation were back before the Human Rights Tribunal recently. The take away this time is that, if you are going to reach an out-of-court settlement, you better put the agreement in writing. This is true in any litigation but is actually required if you want the Human Rights Tribunal to enforce the settlement.

Mr. Taite’s initial Application before the Human Rights Tribunal was dismissed in February 2014. At the time, he was alleging that the responding condominium corporation violated the Human Rights Code by failing to accommodate his disability, which required him to drive a modified truck. Mr. Taite was requesting to be able to park his over-sized truck in an above-ground parking reasonably close to the entrance, as his truck was too big to fit in the underground parking.

The Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the Application on the basis that the accommodation sought by Mr. Taite was not based on a disability but rather on his choice of vehicle. He had failed to demonstrate that his disability required that he drive this specific vehicle, when other smaller vehicles would have also been adequate.

More recently, Mr. Taite was seeking the enforcement of a settlement which he alleged had been reached by the parties at the outset of the initial Human Right Application. Indeed, section 45.9 of the Human Rights Code allows the Tribunal to grant an order it considers appropriate when a party breaches a settlement reached by the parties. Unfortunately for Mr. Taite, the Tribunal’s jurisdiction requires that the settlement be in writing and that it be signed by the parties – which was not the case here. The Tribunal dismissed this second application.