I Am Being Discriminated against or Sexually Harassed
The law prohibits discrimination in housing, the workplace and the provision of services, where the discrimination is based on grounds such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, political belief, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or family status, disability or criminal record. Some types of discrimination are excused if the discrimination is reasonable and necessary.
- If the discrimination happened in the workplace, get a copy of your employer's personnel policies. Most employers have a policy and procedure for dealing with harassment and employee grievances. It is usually best to follow the procedure in these internal policies first.
- If you can't resolve your complaint quickly using your employer's policies, you can make a human rights complaint to either the BC Human Rights Tribunal (if you have a provincially regulated employer) or to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (if you have a federally regulated employer). Most employers are provincially regulated, but some — like the federal government, chartered banks, Indian bands and tribal councils, and national airlines and railways — are federally regulated. To find out if you are dealing with a federally regulated body, contact the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
- To make a complaint against a provincially regulated body, call the BC Human Rights Tribunal at 1-888-440-8844 or fill out the online complaint form at their website page "File a Complaint." Complaint forms are also available at most Service BC (Government Agent) offices. Complaints must be filed within six months of the discriminatory act.
- To make a complaint against a federally regulated body, call the Canadian Human Rights Commission at 1-888-214-1090. You can also contact the Commission by fax or email. Complaints must be filed within one year of the discriminatory act.
What happens next
Once you make a complaint, a representative of the Tribunal or Commission will contact you. They will work with you and the discriminating party (respondent) to see if the problem can be resolved through mediation. If not, the matter may go to a hearing before a human rights tribunal.
If your complaint goes to a human rights tribunal, you (or your lawyer) will give your evidence of discrimination and call any witnesses to it. The employer (or its lawyer) can cross-examine you and your witnesses and then call witnesses of its own. You or your lawyer will be able to cross-examine these witnesses. The tribunal member will decide whether you have proved the discrimination, and can order the employer to stop the discriminating behaviour, or to pay you compensation for the harm done to you, or both.
|Although the above information talks about discrimination or sexual harassment in employment, the same process applies to discrimination in housing and the provision of services as well.|
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- BC Human Rights Clinic: The BC Human Rights Clinic runs programs to help people file their complaints, and also represents human rights complainants in the early stages of the process. You must apply for representation within 30 days of your complaint being accepted by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The clinic is run by Community Legal Assistance Society, whose lawyers represent human rights complainants in hearings before the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
- PovNet, for contact and website information for human rights advocates near you.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common question "I've been discriminated against."
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Kaity Cooper, April 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
A dispute resolution process in which a specially-trained neutral person facilitates discussions between the parties to a legal dispute and helps them reach a compromise settling the dispute. See "alternative dispute resolution" and "family law mediator."
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