Preliminary process

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is the first point of contact for filing a complaint of discrimination under one or more of the grounds prohibited by the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Following an investigation, the Commission may refer the complaint to the Tribunal for inquiry. The Tribunal finalizes the complaint either through a successful mediation or a full hearing.

The Tribunal and Commission are separate and independent institutions, each with their own role in the human rights complaint process.

What happens after the Tribunal receives a complaint of discrimination?

After the Tribunal receives a complaint of discrimination from the CHRC, first it assigns a Registry Officer to the file. The Registry Officer will send a letter to all parties containing the CHRT case number, and offering mediation to the complainant and respondent.

Although Registry Officers can’t give legal advice, parties can get in touch with their assigned Registry Officer with questions about mediation, case management, or hearings.

Complaint Resolution Process Diagram

Participants in the complaint resolution process

Tribunal Member(s): Tribunal Members are legally trained, impartial decision makers with expertise in human rights. A Tribunal Member (or Members) is assigned to hear each case and decide whether discrimination has occurred. Prior to the hearing, a Tribunal Member (usually a different member than the one assigned to hear the case) may also help the parties to reach their own solution to their differences through mediation.

Registry Officer: Registry Officers are the point of contact between parties to a case (see below) and the Tribunal. A Registry Officer is assigned to each case that comes before the Tribunal. He or she is the person to whom the parties should address any questions, including requests for assistance when you are in doubt about the Tribunal's procedures. Please note: Registry Officers do not provide legal advice.


Parties are the main participants in a case. They include the following:

  • Complainant: The Complainant is the person (or group) who files the complaint of discrimination.
  • Respondent: The Respondent is the person, group, or organization against whom the complaint of discrimination was made.
  • Party Representatives: The Complainant or Respondent may represent themselves or may choose to have another person—usually a lawyer—represent them.
  • Canadian Human Rights Commission: Although the Commission does not participate in every hearing before the Tribunal, when it does appear, it argues the case on behalf of what it considers to be in the public interest.
  • Other interested parties: A person or group who is not a party in the case (in other words, not a Complainant, Respondent or the Canadian Human Rights Commission) but who may be affected by the decision the Tribunal will render, have a very direct interest in the case, or be able to provide the Tribunal with evidence that would otherwise not be available.

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