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Human Rights Complaints Process

Human Rights Complaints

When an employee files a human rights complaint, the process, although relatively straightforward, can be overwhelming and time-consuming for someone not well versed in human rights law. We can provide guidance and/or representation to you or your organization during this process.

In Alberta, employees are protected from discrimination on the following grounds:

  • Race
  • Physical disability
  • Source of income
  • Religious beliefs
  • Marital status
  • Colour
  • Sexual orientation
  • Mental disability
  • Family status
  • Gender Expression
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ancestry
  • Gender identity
  • Place of origin

To seek a remedy for a violation of human rights, employees can file a complaint form with the Human Rights Commission within one year of the discriminatory event. Once the respondent is notified of the complaint, it will have 30 days to file a response (subject to any extensions of time).

Determining Actions of Parties

In most cases, once the complaint and response are filed, a Conciliation Officer will be assigned to your file, and will attempt to facilitate a mutually acceptable resolution. This step does not examine the actions of the parties or determine right and wrong. It is designed to explore possibilities for early settlement. If successful, the complaint is resolved and the process has come to an end. Conciliation generally occurs within 18 months of the complaint being filed, although that can vary greatly.

If conciliation does not resolve the complaint, an investigation will be conducted by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Investigations usually begin within 6 to 24 months of the conciliation. An Investigation Officer will review all records provided by the parties and will conduct interviews, often by telephone, with relevant witnesses. An investigation report will then be provided to the parties and to the Director of the Commission with a recommendation to either dismiss the complaint or allow it to proceed to a hearing. If the parties do not resolve the matter at this step, the Director will determine whether or not the issue should be heard by a Tribunal.

Hearings usually occur within 6-24 months of the conclusion of the investigation and are held before a panel of Tribunal members. Each party will have an opportunity to tell their story, present their evidence, and ask questions of the other side.