If you have reasonable ground to believe that you have experienced discrimination against the protections in the PEI Human Rights Act, you may file a complaint with the Commission. In some cases, you may be able to file a complaint on behalf of someone else. That person may have to give the Commission permission to proceed with the complaint.
When you (Complainant) file a complaint with the Commission, it is reviewed to ensure that the complaint relates to an incident in PEI, a protected area and ground, and it is filed within the appropriate time frame (within one year of the incident). If not, the complaint may be dismissed at this point.
If the complaint does identify an area, ground, reasonable belief and appropriate timeline, the complaint is sent to the person named in the complaint (Respondent) to get their response and to find out if they would like to enter in to settlement discussions.
If the complaint is not settled (see more information on settlement process below), and once the parties have had an opportunity to respond to each others documents, the file moves to investigation.
There is no cost to file a complaint and parties are not required to have a lawyer however, parties may hire lawyers at their own expense if they wish.
To file a complaint, you will need to complete the form that follows our guide.
You will need to identify a protected area and ground.
It is important to keep the Commission up to date with your current contact information throughout the life of your complaint.
If you have any questions, you may contact Commission at 902-368-4180 to get help with your complaint and to discuss your complaint.
If you are named in a complaint, you are the Respondent.
As Respondent of the complaint you should provide a written response to the Commission. A complaint can proceed without a response. Learn how to respond to a complaint.
If you have any questions you may call the Commission.
The Commission encourages parties to develop their own solution through discussion instead of having a resolution imposed on them. We have a trained mediator on staff who can provide mediation to the parties of a complaint. A settlement is generally less costly and more effective, and may be agreed upon at any time before a human rights panel has made a ruling on the complaint.
A Complainant may withdraw their complaint at any time up until a human rights panel has made a ruling on it. Withdrawal can happen by the Complainant either filing a notice of withdrawal form or by writing a letter to the Commission.
It is important to keep the Commission up to date with your current contact information throughout the life of your complaint. If the Commission is unable to reach the you after several attempts and some time has passed, the complaint will be considered withdrawn. In such cases, the Commission will attempt to notify the Complainant and the Respondent in writing that the complaint is considered withdrawn.
The Executive Director or an assigned Human Rights Legal Officer will investigate the file to determine if the matter should be dismissed, discontinued or referred to the chair of the Commission for a hearing. This will be a written decision.
If the matter is dismissed or discontinued the Complainant may ask the Chair to review the file for a second opinion (Chair Review).
If the matter is not settled, dismissed or discontinued, arrangements will be made for a panel hearing (see more information on this stage below) by one or three Commissioners. This hearing is generally open to the public, may involve witnesses, and document evidence and submissions by the parties.
The Executive Director has three options when deciding what to do with a complaint. They can:
- Dismiss the complaint if they consider it to be without merit.
- Discontinue further action on the complaint if the Complainant has refused to accept a proposed settlement that they believe to be fair and reasonable, or if the complaint could be dealt with more appropriately by an alternative method under a different Act.
- Report to the Chair of the Commission that the parties are unable to settle the complaint and recommend a panel hearing.
The parties are notified in writing of whatever action the Executive Director decides to take.
If the Executive Director decides to dismiss or discontinue the complaint, the Complainant has the option to ask the Chair of the Commission to review this decision. Then, the Chair will either agree with the Executive Director’s decision to dismiss the complaint, or decide to send the complaint to a public panel hearing.
If one of the parties disagrees with the decision by the Chair, they have 30 days to file an application with the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island to have a Judicial Review of the Chair’s decision.
A human rights panel hearing is more relaxed than a court hearing. Prior to the hearing, each party must submit any documents that they intend to use at the hearing. During the hearing, each party may call witnesses to testify. The hearing is open to the public unless the panel determines that parts of the hearing should take place in private.
The Complainant and the Respondent don’t have to have lawyers to participate in a panel hearing, although they are allowed to hire one if they want at their own expense.
Once the hearing is completed, the panel will write a final decision that is binding on both parties. If the panel finds that the complaint is without merit, it may dismiss the complaint. If the panel finds that the complaint has merit, the panel may order the Respondent to do any of the following things as a remedy:
- To stop discriminating against the Complainant.
- To not discriminate against others in the same way in the future.
- To give the Complainant the rights, opportunities or privileges that they were not given because of the discrimination.
- To pay the Complainant money for lost wages, lost income, or any expenses they incurred as a result of the discrimination.
- To take any other action the panel considers proper in order to place the Complainant in the position they would have been in if the discrimination had not taken place including ordering a payment to compensate for hurt and humiliation and for costs of the hearing.
The panel does not have the power to order the respondent to make a payment in order to punish the respondent.
The panel also has the power to file an order with the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island that is enforceable by law.
The Complainant and the Respondent both have 30 days from the date of the panel decision to file an application with the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island if they want to have a Judicial Review.