Once a complaint has been formalized, the Commission works to help the parties find an appropriate and timely resolution. Most of the time, complaints are resolved through mediation. When mediation is unsuccessful, the complaint is referred to investigation to capture a better understanding of the complaint.
The Commission’s Director of Resolution assigns a staff investigator to request necessary documents, interview witnesses and take statements. That information is used to prepare a disclosure report that is sent to the complainant and to the respondent. Either party can ask for clarification, and provide additional information to the investigator.
Every year many complaints are resolved as a result of the investigation process. When the parties cannot agree, the investigator will present the disclosure report to the Commission’s case management team.
The case management process begins when the Chief Commissioner reviews the evidence provided to the SHRC’s investigator. The investigator and the commission’s legal team meet with the Chief Commissioner to discuss the information that has been gathered.
The objective of the discussion is to determine whether one of three options is appropriate for the particular complaint:
- Deferral, or
- Referral to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a hearing.
Throughout the review process, the Section 27 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code gives the Chief Commissioner the authority to dismiss a complaint, at any time after a complaint is filed or initiated.
The Chief Commissioner may find after careful consideration that the complaint is without merit, that it raises no significant issue of discrimination, or that the complaint has been appropriately dealt with pursuant to another Act or proceeding. In this situation, the Chief Commissioner, with the advice of the case management team, may dismiss a complaint.
The Chief Commissioner can also elect to defer a complaint to what he feels another process can offer a more appropriate remedy.
For example, an individual whose employment has been terminated might have previously initiated a union grievance process, in addition to filing a human rights complaint.
In this situation, the Chief Commissioner can defer the Commission’s complaint process in order to determine if union-employer negotiation will achieve an outcome that would otherwise meet the objectives of the Code.
Referral to the Court of Queen's Bench
If, through the case management process, the Chief Commissioner feels that dismissal or deferral are not appropriate for a given case, he may find that the complaint has sufficient merit to refer it to the Court of Queen’s Bench for hearing.
Before a referral occurs, the Chief Commissioner may exercise his authority under Section 29.5 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and direct parties to enter into mediation before referral to a formal hearing. The goal of directed mediation is to create one last opportunity to resolve the complaint without engaging the Court process.
In some cases, a “final offer” of settlement by the respondent is taken into account. If the Chief Commissioner considers such an offer to be fair and reasonable, but the complainant has rejected it, the complaint may be dismissed. If a reasonable offer is not made, the matter will proceed to hearing, as directed by the Chief Commissioner.
Within 90 days of the date of the directed mediation, the matter will, in most cases, be referred to the Court of Queen’s Bench for hearing. The hearing will be conducted by the Commission’s lawyer. A hearing of this nature will likely take no more than two or three days to complete. Less than 2% of all complaints are expected to proceed to hearing.