What do I need to know before filing a discrimination complaint?

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If you think you have been discriminated against and are considering filing a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, there are three things you need to know.

1. The Commission will expect that you first try to resolve the issue where it took place.

The Commission’s human rights officer will encourage you to try to solve the problem by using an internal dispute resolution process in your workplace, if there is one. If your complaint is with a service provider, the human rights officer will encourage you to speak to a manager or contact the customer service department, if the organization has one.

2. Your complaint may be a provincial or territorial matter.

Provinces and territories are responsible for the majority of employers and service providers in Canada. Things like restaurants, grocery stores and  gas stations fall under the responsibility of your province or territory. So be prepared to go to a Provincial and Territorial Human Rights Agencies instead.

3. Your complaint needs to meet certain criteria to be valid.

Not all unfair situations are valid discrimination complaints. A valid complaint requires one of 11 grounds of discrimination, a discriminatory practice, and a negative effect on you. To find out if you have a valid complaint, you can use the complaint assessment tool, or contact the Commission.

It is also important to note that only people who are in Canada legally can file a complaint, and that your complaint must be filed with the Commission within 12 months of the incident otherwise your complaint may be refused. 


A valid discrimination complaint =

ground of discrimination + discriminatory practice + negative effect on you


Chapter 6: Filing a Complaint

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