The following information is provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For legal advice contact a lawyer.
Q. If I file a Human Rights Complaint will somebody investigate?
A. The Tribunal does not investigate. Filing a human rights complaint is similar to suing. If the complaint is not settled, or is not dismissed on a preliminary application, it will go to a hearing where you will have a chance to present your evidence and prove your case before a Tribunal Member (Judge).
Q. If I file a human rights complaint can the respondent ask for costs against me?
A. Generally speaking the complainant and respondent pay thier own costs. The Tribunal will only award costs (i.e. a penalty) when a party engages in improper conduct during the course of a complaint, or if a party contravenes a rule, decision, order or direction of the Tribunal.
Q. If my Union has filed a grievance can I still file a human rights complaint?
A. If you believe that you have been discriminated against you have the right to file a complaint. However, an arbitrator appointed under a collective agreement has a duty to look at any human rights issues that might be part of your grievance, so if your union filed a grievance and you file a human rights complaint there will be 2 processes ongoing at the same time. When this occurs the Tribunal may defer (put on hold) the human rights complaint until the arbitrator has made their decision.
Q. My employer fired me but still owes me holiday pay and pay for overtime. I think they discriminated against me when they fired me. What should I do?
A. You should seek advice on whether or not your human rights have been violated AND you should contact the Employment Standards Branch (ESB). ESB can help you get your holiday pay, pay for overtime and other monies you may be owed for work you did.
Q. WCB denied my claim. Is this grounds for filing a human rights complaint?
A. Probably not, but it would depend on the circusmstances. If your claim with WCB has been denied there are appeal processes in place. Pesumably everyone that files a WCB claim is injured. But just becuase you are injured and WCB turns down your claim does not mean the reason that they turned you down is discriminatory. If you believe that that reason you were turned down is because of one of the protected grounds (i.e. your race, colour, mental disability, physical disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc...) then you should seek advice on filing a human rights complaint.
Q. My union is not helping me enough with my greivance. Is this a human rights complaint?
A. Generally speaking this is not grounds for filing a human rights complaint. However, under Section 12 of the BC Labour Code, your Union has a duty of fair representation which means they must not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith. If they do act in this way you may want to consider contacting the BC Labour Relations Board. If you believe you are not getting help BECAUSE of one of the protected grounds (i.e. your race, colour, mental disability, physical disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc...) then you should seek advice on filing a human rights complaint.
Q. I am disabled and am having problems getting my disability benefits – what can I do?
A. Try contacting the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities they may be able to help you get your benefits or explain your entitlement. If you believe you are being discriminated against contact the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
Q. I thought that the BC Human Rights Tribunal ("BCHRT") would provide me with legal advice and representation. Is it not the responsibility of the BCHRT to provide me with this assistance?
A. The Tribunal is like a court. Courts do not provide legal advice or representation. Our organization, the BC Human Rights Clinic, is funded to provide assistance to persons filing human rights complaints. Think of us as legal aid for human rights. Follow this link to see How to Apply for Representation. There is often confusion about what the Tribunal does and what we do. We have prepared a chart that shows who does what.
Q. I don't understand the process of filing a complaint. There seems to be so many rules and deadlines. Where can I find information on the process and what to expect after filing my complaint?
A. The Human Rights Code and the Rules of Practice and Procedure provide the basic guidelines in dealing with Human Rights Issues. The Tribunal's website also has a search engine that allows searching to be done by Keyword. Our site (which you are now on) also has a lot of information.
Q. My human rights complaint has been dismissed by the BC Human Rights Tribunal and I do not agree with the reasons. What can I do to appeal this decision?
A. The Rules of Practice and Procedure provides the right to file for a judicial review to the BC Supreme Court within 60 days of the decision. You can get help filing the papers for your judicial review at the BC Supreme Court Self Help Information Centre at the Court complex at Robson Square in Vancouver. They also have an online guide to judicial review.
Q. I am representing myself in my complaint but I do not feel comfortable talking to Respondents and the Respondent's lawyer on the phone. What is the best way to communicate with the Respondents?
A. The parties may communicate in a variety of ways. The Tribunal rules allow for delivery of communications by email, mail, courier, or fax. However, often phone calls are made just for purposes of efficient communication. If you do not want to be contacted this way, ask to be communicated with in one of the other ways.
Q. What is involved in writing my own Statement of Remedy? What do Complainant's usually ask for?
A. Under Section 37 of the BC Human Rights Code the Tribunal may order a variety of remedies. The remedies asked for can be numerous, based on the specifics of the case, but can generally categorized in two ways. 1 compensation for “Injury to Dignity” – for the pain and suffering resulting from the discrimination and 2, and award to compensate for those things that were lost, such as wages, contributions to pay for benefits (such as medical/dental), contributions to CPP, WCB, pension plans, severance pay, expenses incurred etc… Although the Tribunal has the power to order reinstatement it rarely does so.
Q. I understand that if my case reaches a Hearing that the Tribunal will publish the decision to the public. I don't want the public to know about my case: What can I do to stop the Tribunal from making their decision public?
A. At any time during the process a party can make an application to limit publication. Generally this would consist of anonymizing the names of the parties. The Tribunal will consider doing this if it is in the “Public Interest” to do so. Here are some cases that have dealt with limiting publication. Case 1. Case 2.
Q. My boss/coworker continues to treat me like I'm incompetent and he/she yells at me in front of other people. Is it not my human right to work in an environment that is free from workplace bullying?
A. Unfortunately, general bullying and harassment not tied to a protected ground under the Human Rights Code is not covered by the Code. Harassment will only be covered if the harassment is related to a protected ground e.g. Sexual Orientation, Religion, Disability, Race, Gender Identity etc... However, if your boss is just generally a jerk and treats everyone badly, it likely isn’t a human rights case, but you may have rights under employment law, or under your collective agreement (if you are in a Union). Also of you suffer from a mental disorder ( for example diagnosed anxiety and/or depression) as a result of harassment at work you can file a claim with WorkSafe BC under S5.1 of the Workers Compensation Act
Q. I understand that the BC Human Rights Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear matters related to Charter violations. Where can I go to get help with this?
A. In the past the Federal Government provided some funding for Charter cases but no longer. Some organizations may be willing to assist you with a Charter case depending on the issue you are dealing with. You’ll have to online to find a group that does such work in the area you are dealing with.
Q. What is the difference between the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission?
A. The BC Human Rights Tribunal handles cases relating to provincially regulated entities and the Canadian Human Rights Commission deals with federally regulated entities. Under the Constitution Act of 1867, the Federal Government and the Provincial Government were given authority to regulate different areas. Areas such as Transportation (Airlines – Airports), Telecommunications (Television, Radio, Internet), Banking (but not Credit Unions), Fisheries, and other such entities are federally regulated and a complaint would be made to the Federal Human Rights Commission. You have 12 months from the last act of discrimination to lodge a complaint with the Commission.
The Tribunal deals with those things regulated under provincial regulation such as BC Ferries, Coast Mountain Bus, the Police (but not RCMP), local government agencies, School Districts, shops, stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc… You have 6 months from the last act of discrimination to lodge a complaint with the Tribunal.