When employees in British Columbia feels that they were victims of discrimination in the workplace, they may be able to file a human rights complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, or with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
If the employee is able to file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and that complaint is accepted by the Commission and advanced to a hearing, the hearing will be before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (the “CHRT”). The CHRT will listen to evidence provided and the testimony of witnesses, to determine whether the alleged discrimination occurred. If based on that information, the CHRT decides the person was, in fact, discriminated against, it will also decide what the appropriate remedy is.
In British Columbia there is a “direct access” model. This means that complaints are not investigated by a commission prior to being forwarded to the tribunal for resolution.
Not all human rights complaints succeed for a number of reasons and sometimes, the complaints are not found to be discrimination at all.
An example of a complaint which did not succeed arising from a finding that there was no discrimination alleged is Siddoo v. International Longshormen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, Local 502, 2015 CHRT 3.
A lot of time and energy on the part of both an employer or employee goes into properly proceeding before administrative bodies, including human rights tribunals. Employees who seek legal advice or representation can help ensure a complaint is correctly written and not prematurely dismissed. Employers, on the other hand, can use legal counsel to ensure the complaint is prevented, resolved in a timely manner, or defended appropriately from the start. In either case, the benefit of legal advice can be an invaluable strategic decision.