The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code protects your right to equality without discrimination based on the protected characteristics of disability, age (18 or more), religion or religious creed, family status, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, race or perceived race, nationality, place of origin, ancestry, colour, receipt of public assistance, and gender identity.
It’s against the law for someone to discriminate against you for any of these reasons in contracts, education, employment, housing, professional trades and associations, publications, purchase of property, occupations, trade unions or public services.
Making a Complaint
If you think someone has discriminated against you, you may make a complaint within one year of the incident. You can contact our office by mail, telephone, or email to explain your situation to an intake consultant to begin the intake process. In-person, or face-to-face, meetings are by appointment only. It is important to note that the Commission does not accept hand delivered materials unless those materials are delivered during a prearranged appointment. All materials relevant to complaint files are to be mailed, couriered or emailed to the office.
You may be asked to fill out and submit an intake questionnaire. An intake consultant will then assess your inquiry and let you know if we can proceed.
You will be asked to sign a complaint form if:
- the discrimination is based on any of the reasons listed above,
- your complaint involves an activity covered by the Code, and
- there is reason to believe the discrimination occurred.
Your complaint is official once you sign the complaint form.
What Happens Next?
The Code allows the Commission to tailor its process to the needs of each case. As the person making the complaint, you are the complainant.
Once we receive your signed complaint, we will contact the other party (the respondent), to hear their side of the story. We may then try to resolve the complaint through pre-complaint resolution, through mediation, by investigating the complaint, or by sending it to a hearing.
The Commission can defer action if the Chief Commissioner believes an alternative process, such as a union grievance, would be more appropriate. You are also entitled to withdraw your complaint at any time.
As the point of first contact with a complainant, the intake officer is well-placed to see an opportunity for a timely resolution that may not require a complaint to be formalized. In these situations, the intake officer has the authority to see if he or she can create a “pre-complaint” resolution.
The pre-complaint process is for time-sensitive complaints that can usually be resolved quickly, sometimes in just a few phone calls. It can, for example, put the complainant back on course with their employer without any significant negative consequences. Opening the door to communication through an intake consultant can facilitate these situations.
The intake consultant has a duty to remain neutral during the pre-complaint process – informing the two sides in an unbiased and impartial way sets the stage for a better conversation.
As well, pre-complaint communication can, for example, serve to educate employers. Employers are often more aware of Labour Standards legislation than they are of human rights legislation. While an individual may have his or her own belief of what human rights are, or ought to be, it’s about what is legislated in law. Describing the process and gravity of human rights violations is important in helping people understand the severity of cases that move on to the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Mediation and Settlement
Parties can resolve complaints through mediation or settlement at any stage in the process – before or at intake, during or after an investigation. In many cases, these negotiations provide a faster, more co-operative method of resolving complaints than investigations or hearings.
In an investigation, an impartial investigator talks to witnesses and examines records to find out what happened. The investigator then refers the case to the Chief Commissioner who decides whether the case should be mediated, dismissed, sent to a hearing, or dealt with in another way.
Hearing of Cases
The Court of Queen’s Bench conducts hearings that are referred to it by the Commission. The Commission’s lawyer will present the case in the Court for the complainant free of charge, though complainants may hire a lawyer to represent them if they so choose. Respondents either hire their own lawyer to represent them in court or they may represent themselves.
How you can help
There are many ways you can help us deal with your complaint:
- Keep notes and records of what happened
- Prepare a list of witnesses you think we should interview, including addresses and telephone numbers if possible
- Keep in touch with the Commission staff
- Inform us of any changes to your address or phone number