Understanding the Human Rights Complaint Process! Are you at risk?

Our last post talked about the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and protected characteristics.  So how does the Human Rights complaint process start? What should employees and employers alike expect from this process? Did you hear about the recent changes to the Human Rights complaint process in Nova Scotia?

Should an employee deem that a complaint has gone unheard or unresolved internally, and the employee decides to take the complaint to the Human Rights Commission, employers should expect the following outcome:

The employee will speak with the Commission to identify if the complaint is valid and confirm that it cannot be resolved within the workplace;images

  1. A formal complaint process will be followed;
  2. The Commission offers three restorative approaches to recognize the violation of a protected characteristic (A and B are new steps that have been added to streamline complaints and cut down on complaint resolution times):
    1. Resolution Conference – the Commission acts as a mediator for all parties involved to reach a formal settlement or resolution;
    2. Mediation- Is off the record resolution or mediation.  The second step of this process is held with a neutral party from the Commission, discussions are called with all relevant parties, off record;
    3. Alternative Investigation- Formal in nature – involves qualifying criteria, interviewing of all parties, gathering of information and evidence, there is writing of an investigation report, parties are able to comment on report, and then the final commissioners’ decision is produced
    4. Should the complaint not be resolved per one of the three restorative approaches the complaint can be brought to the Board of Inquiry, the highest authority and “last stage” of the process.  The Board of Inquiry is an independent tribunal separate from the Commission. The process is formal in nature and the Board Chair will make a “finding of fact and provide a written decision with reasons.”

If employers find themselves in a position before the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, it is considered best practice to be familiar with the above process and consider the following:

Have a thorough understanding of the complaint;

  • If you do not understand something, ask the Commission’s Officer;
  • Think about all possible resolutions;
  • Gather your information and identify your witnesses; and
  • Cooperate with Commission staff to ensure they have all the information they need.

As an employer do you know how to handle a Human Rights complaint?  If not give us a call today, we can advise you of your options prior to seeking legal counsel! Call us today at 877-1887.

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