Whether delivered by phone, email, or in person to the office of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, all complaints are directed to an intake officer. The intake process can be a first step towards formalizing a complaint, an opportunity for a complainant to receive information, or a business or organization to ask questions of a general nature.
The Intake Process
In most situations, the intake process* is typically the same. Someone at reception will ask a few questions about the complaint in order to properly direct the inquiry. For example, the Commission has one intake consultant who specializes in talking with employers about their obligations to employees.
An intake consultant will listen to the complainant’s side of the story and ask questions to help determine if there appears to be a violation of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. The intake consultant has to consider such things as whether the Commission has jurisdiction, whether the complaint is within a one year time frame, and what protected grounds may have been violated.
An intake consultant may refer the complaint to another government agency or service provider if their help would be more appropriate. In every instance, the intake consultant will do his/her best to ensure the information is accurate and is delivered as quickly as possible.
Sometimes this might mean the intake consultant will need to research issues related to the question or consult with the Commission’s legal staff. While each intake consultant handles multiple inquiries, they work to respond to each issue as soon as possible.
In most cases, the intake consultant will require an intake questionnaire to be completed. This can be done online or on paper. The questionnaire asks for basic contact information, the details of the complaint, and how the complainant feels the situation could best be resolved.
Once the intake questionnaire is received, a case file is opened and, in turn, the case file is assigned to an intake consultant. She or he serves as the contact at the initial stages of the complaint process and may ask for additional documentation to support the claims. For example, if discrimination based on a disability is central to the claim, the complainant may be asked for medical confirmation of the disability.
If the claim is for wrongful termination because of race, or another protected ground, the Commission may ask for pay stubs, a Record of Employment, and any other documentation regarding work performance (positive or negative).
After reviewing the statements and the documentation, the Commission’s Director of Resolution will make a determination as to whether there are reasonable grounds to believe a violation of the Code has occurred. If no reasonable grounds can be determined, the complainant is notified by mail that the complaint will not be pursued. If the complainant believes there is additional information that would provide more evidence, he or she has two weeks to contact the Commission with this information. The new evidence will be reviewed and an assessment will be made as to whether to dismiss the complaint or to proceed.
If reasonable grounds to file a complaint exist, the intake consultant drafts a formal complaint based on the information provided. In specific language, and using a formal style, it outlines the particulars of what has happened and identifies the key points of discrimination.
It is important to ensure that the information contained in the complaint is accurate and to make changes before the complainant signs off on the complaint and the document is sent to the Respondent, the person who is alleged to be the source of the discrimination.
The intake consultant sends the signed, formalized complaint to the Respondent, advising them that they have two weeks to respond. Sometimes Respondents ask for additional time because they need to seek legal advice. Once the Commission receives a formal response from the Respondent, a copy of that response is sent to the complainant. The file is then turned over to the Director of Resolution for assignment to a staff mediator, and the process continues through mediation.
The complainant may withdraw a complaint at any stage of the process. If the complaint is withdrawn, the Commission will take the necessary steps to close the file.
* This summary offers a brief overview of the intake process and it may not be applicable in all situations.