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What to do if you believe you have experienced discrimination

Employers often have internal procedures for resolving complaints of discrimination. These may include investigation, conciliation or mediation. If you believe you have experienced discrimination in the workplace, find out if your employer has a policy on discrimination in the workplace, or if a staff person is designated to deal with discrimination issues. If so, follow the process outlined in your policy and discuss your allegations with the designate. If you are in a unionized work environment and a member of the union, you may contact your union representatives. If you are in a non-unionized workplace and your company does not have a policy or anyone designated to deal with discrimination issues, you may wish to bring your concerns to your supervisor or a human resources advisor.

No matter what your work situation is, you are welcome to contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission to discuss your concern. A complaint must be made to the Commission within one year of the alleged discriminatory act.

It is important that you keep written notes about the events leading to the complaint. These include:

  • what happened: a description of the events or situation;
  • when it happened: dates and times of the events or incidents;
  • where it happened;
  • who witnessed the events or incidents; and
  • any supporting documents or material, such as letters, notes or offensive pictures, connected to the behaviour or course of conduct that you are complaining about.

If the allegations warrant an investigation, the employer may appoint a neutral person to examine the circumstances of the complaint. An effective investigator is:

  • independent and objective
  • not perceived to be taking the side of either party
  • not your supervisor and does not have authority over you

Investigation is not the only option and in some circumstances, your employer may attempt mediation or conciliation to resolve your complaint.

The Alberta Human Rights Act protects individuals from retaliation for making a human rights complaint. The employer must ensure that no employee or witness is penalized for making or assisting with a complaint.

Call the Commission's confidential inquiry line to discuss your complaint with a human rights officer.

For more information, see:

Call our confidential inquiry line
What are the grounds for a complaint?
Information for complainants
Alternative dispute resolution

Revised: February 5, 2010


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.