The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal holds public hearings to inquire into complaints of discrimination which have been referred to it by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Up to 15 Tribunal members - a full-time Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson and 13 full- or part-time members from across Canada - are assigned to hear and adjudicate all cases that come before the Tribunal. The Chairperson assigns either one or three members to hear each case. Based on the evidence presented and the law, a decision is made as to whether discrimination has occurred. If it has, the member or panel of members hearing the case decide on the appropriate remedy and how to prevent similar cases of discrimination in the future.
Although the CHRT must wait for the CHRC to refer cases, the Commission often resolves cases without referring them to the Tribunal. The cases that make it as far as the Tribunal generally involve complicated legal issues, new human rights issues, unexplored areas of discrimination or complex complaints with evidence that must be submitted under oath. The level of complexity of most cases demands that Tribunal members spend long hours analyzing complex legal issues and points of law before ruling on cases.
The Tribunal Registry offers administrative support to the Tribunal and provides liaison between the parties in a case and the member or panel of members hearing a case. When the Commission refers a case to the Tribunal, a Registry Officer is assigned to look after the administrative details of the case.