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​Information for respondents

The person against whom the complaint is made is called the respondent.

Responding to a complaint

Once a complaint is made to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the respondent is able to provide detailed information about the issues identified in the complaint by completing the respondent's response form. A timely response helps to facilitate a fair and balanced resolution of the complaint.

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 and grounds

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

  • 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 employer.

  • 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 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.

Information to consider for your response

  • 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).

  • 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 may refuse to accept, defer, or dismiss a complaint that is being, has been, will be, or should be more appropriate dealt​ with in another forum or under another Act. The Commission must be notified if there is an action in another forum.

The human rights complaint process


Revised: May 9, 2022

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.