Information for complainants

The Alberta Human Rights Act ensures that all Albertans are offered an equal opportunity to earn a living, find a place to live, and enjoy services customarily available to the public without discrimination.

The Act allows people to make a human rights complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission if they have a reasonable basis to believe that they have experienced harassment or have been discriminated against in the specific areas and under the specific grounds protected under the Act.

The person who is making the human rights complaint is called the complainant.


What you need to know before making a complaint

Not all complaints made to the Commission are accepted. Complaints must meet specific criteria outlined in the Act.

  • Time limit
    A complaint must be made to the Commission within one year after the alleged incident of discrimination. The one-year period starts the day after the date on which the alleged incident occurred.

  • Jurisdiction
    Any alleged incident of discrimination must have occurred in Alberta or with an Alberta employer to be within the Commission's jurisdiction. Most workplaces in Alberta are governed by provincial human rights legislation (the Alberta Human Rights Act). However, certain workplaces are governed by federal law (the Canadian Human Rights Act).

  • Protected areas and grounds
    Not all negative or unfair treatment is discrimination under Alberta human rights law. It is only considered discrimination if the negative treatment you experienced happened in one of the protected areas and under one of the protected grounds in the Act.


Making a complaint

To make a human rights complaint, complete the self-assessment or access the complaint form.

Please note: If your complaint is not accepted, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed.

 

Additional information

Other considerations that could impact your complaint

  • Termination, severance agreements, and releases
    Employers sometimes negotiate severance agreements with employees when their employment is terminated. Severance agreements often contain a "release." If an employee has signed an agreement that contains a release clause, the Commission must be notified about the release and it will be reviewed as part of the complaint process.

  • Actions in another forum
    Individuals sometimes take actions in other forums on similar allegations to their human rights complaints, such as grievances and civil actions. Under the Act, the Director has the authority to defer a complaint pending the outcome of an action in another forum or under another act. The Commission must be notified if there is an action in another forum.


Understanding your rights and responsibilities

  • Duty to accommodate
    Accommodation means making changes to certain rules, standards, policies, workplace cultures, and physical environments to ensure that they don't have a negative effect on a person because of the person's mental or physical disability, religion, gender, or any other protected ground. Accommodation is a way to balance the diverse needs of individuals and employers.

  • Harassment
    Harassment occurs when a person is subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct. Not all harassment is discrimination under the Act. Where the harassment occurs in a protected area and is based on a protected ground, it is contrary to the Act.

  • Pregnancy, and maternity and parental leave
    The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, which includes pregnancy.


Protected areas

  • Human rights in the workplace
    Employers and employees are both responsible for creating respectful and inclusive workplaces. Learn more about your rights and responsibilities as an employee.

  • Human rights in providing goods, services, accommodation, or facilities
    Section 4 of the Act recognizes that all people are equal in dignity, rights, and responsibilities when it comes to the provision of goods, services, accommodation, or facilities customarily available to the public.

  • Human rights in residential and commercial tenancy
    The Act covers tenancy situations from the moment a rental unit is advertised, or otherwise said to be available, to the end of the tenancy.

  • Human rights in statements, publications, notices, signs, symbols, emblems, or other representations
    Section 3 of the Act balances the objective of eliminating discrimination with the right to freedom of expression.

  • Human rights in membership in trade unions, employers' organizations, and occupational associations
    Section 9 of the Act protects someone from being excluded, expelled, suspended, or discriminated against based on a protected ground by a union or association.


The human rights complaint process


Issues outside of Alberta's human rights law

Your situation may not fall under the protection of the Alberta Human Rights Act.

 

Revised: February 27, 2020 


Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.