Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Jurisdiction - Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has a statutory mandate to apply the Canadian Human Rights Act based on the evidence presented and on the case law. Created by Parliament in 1977, the Tribunal is the only entity that may legally decide whether a person or organization has engaged in a discriminatory practice under the Act. If one of the parties involved does not agree with the Tribunal's decision, an appeal may be filed at the Federal Court of Canada.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is the first point of contact for registering a formal complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Tribunal can only deal with cases which have been referred to it by the Commission. Since the CHRT functions like a court it must remain impartial. It cannot take sides in discrimination cases or make any decision without a formal investigation and referral by the CHRC.

The Tribunal's jurisdiction covers matters that come within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, including federal government departments and agencies and Crown corporations, as well as banks, airlines and other federally regulated employers and providers of goods, services, facilities and accommodation.

The Act prohibits discrimination on the following grounds:

  • race
  • national or ethnic origin
  • colour
  • religion
  • age
  • sex (includes pay equity, harassment (applies to all prohibited grounds, not just sex), pregnancy and childbirth)
  • marital status
  • family status
  • sexual orientation
  • disability (can be mental/physical, includes disfigurement, past or present, alcohol or drug dependence)
  • conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

Employment Equity Act

In 1996, Parliament proclaimed the Employment Equity Act. The Tribunal's responsibilities were expanded to include the adjudication of complaints under the Act, which applies to employers with more than 100 employees. This Act stipulates that the CHRT also operate as the Employment Equity Review Tribunal. Review tribunals are assembled as needed from the members of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.