The director and staff of the Commission are responsible for the resolution of complaints using the tools provided in the Alberta Human Rights Act: conciliation, investigation, dismissal and discontinuance. The director and staff carry out their complaint resolution duties independently from the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals (CC&T) and members of the Commission.
Referral to the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals when parties are unable to settle a complaint
When parties are unable to settle a complaint that the director believes has merit, the director reports this to the CC&T, who then will either recommend Tribunal Dispute Resolution (TDR) or appoint a human rights tribunal to adjudicate the case.
Appeals to the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals
If the director dismisses or discontinues a complaint, the complainant may appeal the decision by writing to the CC&T within 30 days of receiving the director's decision. The CC&T conducts a documentary review of the file, investigation report, and information from the parties. If the CC&T decides that the complaint should not have been dismissed or that the proposed settlement was not fair and reasonable, the CC&T may recommend TDR or appoint a human rights tribunal to decide the matter. If the CC&T decides that the complaint should have been dismissed or that the proposed settlement was fair and reasonable, the CC&T denies the appeal.
The CC&T's decision on the appeal is final and binding on the parties, although it is subject to judicial review by the Court of Queen's Bench. A judicial review is a review of the process used in making the decision and must be requested within six months of the date of the CC&T's decision.
Tribunal Dispute Resolution (TDR)
There are three ways a case may be referred to TDR once it is referred to the tribunal:
- The parties and/or their counsel may request TDR.
- The CC&T recommends TDR for selected cases referred directly to the tribunal by the director pursuant to section 22(c) of the AHR Act and for selected cases that the CC&T decides should go to a tribunal pursuant to section 26 of the Act.
- A tribunal chair assesses that a case should go to TDR as a result of a pre-hearing teleconference.
All parties must agree to TDR in order to proceed. Otherwise, the case will go directly to a tribunal. Read more about Tribunal Dispute Resolution.
Human rights tribunals
Human rights tribunals are quasi-judicial administrative tribunals that are appointed by the CC&T. Tribunals deal with complaints where the CC&T receives a report from the director that the parties are unable to settle a complaint where merit has been found, or where the CC&T decides that a complaint should not have been dismissed or discontinued by the director.
The CC&T appoints one or three members of the Commission to sit as the tribunal. The tribunal receives submissions from the parties and hears evidence under oath or by affirmation about the situation that resulted in a complaint being filed. After hearing the evidence, the tribunal makes a decision about whether or not the complaint has merit. If the tribunal decides that the complaint has merit, the tribunal orders a remedy. If the tribunal finds that the complaint is without merit, then it will dismiss the complaint.
Where the tribunal finds that the complaint has merit, it will order a remedy that may result in one or more of the following outcomes:
- stopping the discrimination that the complaint is about
- stopping the respondent from contravening the AHR Act in the same or any similar manner in the future
- providing the complainant with the rights, opportunities or privileges that were denied because of the discrimination
- compensating the complainant for any lost wages, income, expenses or injury to dignity and self-respect because of the discrimination
- any other action that the tribunal decides would place the person discriminated against in the position they would have been in if the discrimination had not occurred. This might include, for example, ordering the respondent to pay the complainant damages or ordering the respondent to implement new policies.
The tribunal can also make an order concerning the responsibility for paying the costs involved in bringing the matter before the tribunal.
All parties receive the tribunal's decision. Once a decision is filed with the Court of Queen's Bench, it has the same force and effect as a court decision. Either the complainant or respondent can appeal the tribunal's decision to the Court of Queen's Bench within 30 days of receiving the decision. The director may also appeal the tribunal decision to the Court of Queen's Bench within 30 days, if the CC&T gives the director written approval to do so.
For more information about the Commission and human rights tribunal procedures, see:
- Tribunal Dispute Resolution (TDR)
- Handouts for complainants and respondents appearing before a human rights panel
- Procedural manual for tribunal hearings
- Biographies of members of the Commission
- Schedule of upcoming tribunal hearings
Revised: November 14, 2012
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