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Human rights complaint remedies

Every province and territory in Canada has a human rights complaint council. Usually human rights complaints are forwarded to tribunals who render decisions about whether someone’s or a group’s human rights were violated.

There is also the Canadian Human Rights Commission. If complainants are employed by or are connected to the federal government, they would file their human rights complaint CHRC.

It’s important to note that the point of human rights remedies is not to punish the guilty, but rather it is focused on the complainant and putting the complainant in the position he or she would have been in had the discrimination not occurred in the first place.

Though every province and territory has their own laws, usually the remedy will be similar, as they all reflect Canadian law and law precedent.

Remedies can be either monetary or non-monetary.

Determination of remedies

Remedies are based on Canadian law precedent, meaning the tribunal will look at similar decisions to decide what remedy to apply. The tribunal will also look at several factors when considering what remedy to issue. Some of them may include:

  • What kind of violation it was;
  • How many times it occurred and the intensity of the contravention;
  • The vulnerability of the complainant; and
  • What kind of impact it made on the complainant.

Types of remedies

  1. Financial damages
  2. Non-financial remedies
  3. Public interest remedies

Financial damages

When the complainant has lost money due to the discrimination, the tribunal will usually award monetary damages. However, financial awards can also go beyond the money lost.

There are usually two types of monetary damages:

  • General damages: financial award to compensate the person for the loss to be free from discrimination. That includes recognition of the insult to dignity, feelings and self-respect of the person.
  • Special damages: This is the financial remedy that will compensate you for having lost money, or having been forced to spend money, due to the discrimination. For example, for lost wages, lost benefits or if you were forced to get a new job and it paid less.

Non-financial damages

This is a remedy in which the tribunal will attempt to put you in the position you were in before the discrimination against you occurred. Some of the remedies could include:

  • Being offered a job;
  • Being reinstated in your old job;
  • Being offered a promotion;
  • A letter of reference for a future employer;
  • If a landlord refused you an apartment, the tribunal could order the landlord to give you the next available apartment in the building.

Public interest remedies

Such types of remedies are usually ordered in the broader context of preventing future discrimination. It may also be used to educate the person or organization or use a bit of shame to understand the wrong that was committed.

These remedies may include but are not limited to:

  • Create education and training programs;
  • Change hiring criteria;
  • Post the human rights act or code in the workplace;
  • Make a donation to a charity.

If you believe you have faced discrimination at work or somewhere else and are thinking about filing a human rights complaint, you may want to speak to a human rights or employment lawyer.

Read more:

The complaint process Alberta

Human Rights Legal Support Centre Ontario