FAQs: Making, responding to, and resolving human rights complaints

  1. What is the time limit for making complaints?
    A complaint must be made to the Alberta Human Rights 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.

  2. How do I know if my complaint falls under provincial or federal jurisdiction?
    Any alleged incident of discrimination must have occurred in Alberta or with an Alberta organization to be within the Commission's jurisdiction. Most employers, service providers, and organizations in Alberta are governed by provincial human rights legislation (the Alberta Human Rights Act). However, some are governed by federal human rights legislation (the Canadian Human Rights Act) and fall outside of the Commission's jurisdiction.

  3. What is accommodation?
    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 disabilities, religion, gender, or any other protected ground. Accommodation is a way to balance the diverse needs of individuals and employers.

  4. What is considered harassment under the Act?
    Harassment occurs when a person is subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct. Not all harassment is discrimination under the Act. It is only contrary to the Act when the harassment occurs in a protected area and is based on a protected ground.

  5. Is pregnancy protected by the Act?
    The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, which includes pregnancy.

  6. How do I make a human rights complaint?
    The Alberta Human Rights Act allows people to make a human rights complaint to the 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. To make a human rights complaint, complete the self-assessment.
  7. What do I do if a complaint is made against me?
    If the Commission has notified you that a complaint has been made against you or your organization, then you or your organization are called a "respondent" and will have the opportunity to respond to the complaint.

  8. What is conciliation?
    Conciliation is a method used to reach a resolution to a complaint brought to the Commission. A neutral person, known as a conciliator, helps the complainant and the respondent (the parties in the dispute) identify the issues, discuss the factors surrounding the issues, and work out possible solutions. The objective of conciliation is to reach a settlement that is acceptable to both parties.

  9. What is investigation?
    Investigation is a method whereby a neutral person, known as an investigator, gathers relevant information related to the complaint, shares the information between the complainant and the respondent (the parties in the dispute), impartially assesses the information, and considers related law. The investigator then prepares a recommendation for the Director that there is either a reasonable basis to proceed with the complaint or not. The recommendation is also shared with the parties.

  10. What is the remedy for a complaint?
    Remedy consists of financial and/or non-financial relief awarded to an individual for losses and suffering in cases of discrimination which are found to have merit.

  11. What if a severance or release agreement has been signed?
    Employers sometimes negotiate severance agreements with employees when they terminate their employment. 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.


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.