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FAQs about making a complaint

Last updated: December 14, 2023

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Do I need to discuss my situation with the Tribunal before filing my complaint?

No. You may get information from a Tribunal intake officer about the types of situations covered by the Human Rights Code, but you do not need to do so. The Tribunal will only proceed with complaints that set out possible discrimination under the Code.

Do I need permission to file a complaint?

No.  You do not have to ask the Tribunal’s permission to file a complaint.

If you are filing a complaint on behalf of an adult who is capable of filing their own complaint, you will need their written consent.

What if I’ve already settled somewhere else?

If you have settled your human rights problem somewhere else, you should not file a human rights complaint.

For example, if you had a union grievance about the human rights problem that got settled, you should not file a complaint.

If you settled a problem about the same situation but did not address the human rights problem, you might be able to file a complaint. This will depend on whether you signed a “release” that includes a human rights complaint. A release says you cannot bring another proceeding about the same situation.

It is always a good idea to settle all the problems arising out of one situation at the same time.

For example, if you settled an Employment Standards problem about severance, you can file a human rights complaint about the end of your employment, as long as you did not sign a release that includes a human rights complaint.

What effect do other proceedings have on the complaint process?

Sometimes people are involved in more than one legal process at the same time. Even if you are trying to address discrimination in another process or by negotiating, this does not change the one year time limit for filing a human rights complaint. File your complaint within one year of the discrimination. Then you can ask the Tribunal to put your complaint on hold.

Some types of proceedings may be able to resolve human rights issues, including:

  • grievance arbitrations
  • complaints at the Civil Resolution Tribunal
  • cases of wrongful dismissal
  • complaints against a union at the Labour Relations Board

If parties are involved in another proceeding about the same human rights issue, the Human Rights Tribunal might put its process on hold until the other proceedings are finished. If the other proceedings addressed the human rights problem, then the Tribunal will end the complaint process.

Other types of proceedings cannot resolve any human rights issue, including:

  • complaints at the Residential Tenancy Branch
  • complaints at the Employment Standards Branch
  • claims for workers’ compensation benefits
  • claims for Employment Insurance

These types of proceedings will not affect a human rights complaint.

How do I start my complaint? Can I give you the information over the phone?

You start a complaint by completing a Tribunal form and sending it to the Tribunal within the time limit.

You cannot start a complaint over the phone. If you need help completing a Tribunal form, there are options.

The Human Rights Clinic comes to the Tribunal most Mondays to give advice.

You can also contact us.

Can I attach evidence to prove my complaint?

No, unless you are complaining about a job advertisement or other publication. Then you may want to attach the job advertisement or public communication.

A complaint is a statement about what happened. You do not need to prove the statement with evidence at this stage of the process.

How do I send my complaint to the Tribunal?

Mail, fax, email, hand, courier, or process server.

Is there a cost to the file a complaint?

No, the human rights complaint process is free.

What if my employer fires me for making a human rights complaint?

Your employer is not allowed to fire you for making a human rights complaint. That would be retaliation. The BC Human Rights Code forbids retaliation for making a complaint.

If it happens, you can file a Retaliation Complaint.

Who will know about my complaint?  Is it confidential?

The person or organization you make the complaint against has a right to know about your complaint. If the Tribunal proceeds with your complaint, it will notify the respondent.

Some of the human rights complaint process is public and some of it is private. For example, the settlement meeting process is private and confidential. The Tribunal’s decisions and hearings are usually public. For more information see the Tribunal’s Complaint Process Privacy Policy.

Will the respondent go after me for costs?

The Tribunal does not have the power to order “costs” to the party who wins their case.

The Tribunal only has the power to order “costs” for improper conduct. Learn more by reading the Application for an Order that Another Party Pay Costs for Improper Conduct information sheet.

How long do I have to wait until I know if the Tribunal will deal with my complaint?

Usually within 30 to 60 days. If the Tribunal needs more information from you, it can take longer.

When will the other side learn about my complaint?

The Tribunal will tell the other side about your complaint if it decides it can deal with your complaint.


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