The Human Rights Tribunal is a specialized court that handles cases concerning:
- discrimination and harassment based on characteristics (sex, race, etc.) mentioned in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms
- exploitation of the elderly or disabled
- affirmative action programs
However, cases don’t go directly to the Human Rights Tribunal. Complaints must first be filed with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse. The Commission then must look at whether the complaint is well-founded, which means that it is supported by the facts.
If the Commission decides the complaint is well-founded, it can bring the case to the Human Rights Tribunal and act on behalf of the person who made the complaint.
But sometimes the Commission decides to withdraw from the file even when it finds that the complaint is well-founded. If the Commission withdraws, the victim or the person who made the complaint for the victim can, when certain conditions are met, go before the Tribunal on her own and at her own expense. They can also be represented by a lawyer. The Commission and Justice Pro Bono offer a service that allows victims to get the help of a pro-bono lawyer who prepares and files the complaint at the Tribunal with them. The victim must meet certain conditions to have access to these services. For more information, you can contact the Commission or Justice Pro Bono.
If the Commission decides that the complaint is not well-founded, the person who made the complaint might have other recourses.
The Human Rights Tribunal has several options when it intervenes in a situation of discrimination, harassment or exploitation. For example, the Tribunal can:
- Order that special measures be taken to prevent evidence from being lost.
- In emergencies, order that measures be taken to protect the life, health or safety of the victim of discrimination or exploitation.
- Prevent acts of retaliation against a victim, witness, group or organization for complaining to or appearing before the Commission.
- Order the person guilty of discrimination or exploitation to compensate the victim. In some cases, the Tribunal can also order the person to pay extra money to punish him and discourage others from doing the same thing.
- Order an employer to take back an employee who was a victim of discrimination or order a landlord to rent an apartment to a person refused as a tenant.