Compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect

If a complainant wins their case at a hearing, the Tribunal will order a remedy. One of the remedies for discrimination is a payment to make up for the harm to the complainant. It is not meant to punish the respondent.

Sometimes, complainants do not ask for this remedy. For example, they may just want the Tribunal to order the respondent to stop the discrimination.

A complainant must ask for this remedy if they want it. Both parties will have a chance to tell the Tribunal how much they think the Tribunal should order.

How much does the Tribunal usually order a respondent to pay?

In the ten years from 2006-2016:

  • half of the orders made are $5,000 or less
  • one third of the orders made are from $5,001 to $10,000
  • less than 20% of the orders made are over $10,000
  • the highest award is $75,000 but few are over $20,000

How does the Tribunal decide how much money the respondent must pay?

The amount ordered depends on two things:

  1. How the discrimination affected the complainant.
  2. How much money the Tribunal ordered in similar cases.

1. How the discrimination affected the complainant

The Tribunal considers any facts that show how the discrimination affected the complainant's dignity, feelings, and self-respect. This includes facts about the discrimination, the complainant's vulnerability, and the effect on the complainant.

The discrimination

The facts about the discrimination help the Tribunal decide what effect the discrimination had. This includes:

  • What happened

For example: If the complainant was fired from a job, this may have a bigger effect than if the complainant did not get a promotion.

  • Details about what happened

For example: If an employer fired the complainant by email when they were on disability leave, this may have a bigger effect than if the employer handled it in a respectful way.

  • How long did it happen

For example: If a supervisor harassed a complainant for 5 months, this might have a bigger effect than if the harassment went on for 2 months.

  • How often?

For example: If a supervisor harassed a complainant every day, this might have a bigger effect than if it happened twice a month.

Complainant's vulnerability

Some situations make harmful effects more likely. For example:

The complainant is young and the respondent was an older person in a position of authority.

The complainant was fired when she was five months pregnant and needed her job to support her children.

The complainant has a mental disability that many people have negative attitudes about.

Effect on complainant

The Tribunal also considers how the discrimination affected the complainant. This includes:

  • Feelings (such as sadness, anger)
  • Details (such as crying, losing confidence)
  • Health (such as losing appetite, can't sleep, depression)
  • How often and how long? (for example, crying each day for first month and sadness for 1 year)
  • Medical information (such as a psychologist's report)

Medical evidence is not required but it can help prove health effects. It can be important if the health effects are serious, such as long-term depression.

2. How much money the Tribunal ordered in similar cases.

The Tribunal compares the facts of the complaint to other cases with similar facts.

The Tribunal usually looks at recent cases because over time it has increased the amounts it awards.

To see examples of orders in cases like yours, click the links: