Conflict Resolution - Mediation and Settlement
The Commission encourages parties to attempt to find a mutually agreeable solution to complaints.
When a complaint is filed, the Commission’s Mediator/Intake Officer reviews the complaint and in most cases will contact the Respondent to let them know that a complaint has been filed. Parties are advised of the Commission’s mediation/settlement process.
Parties who would like to engage in settlement discussions to resolve the complaint are encouraged to do so early in the process; although, settlement may take place at any time. This gives the parties the opportunity to settle their issues and, in some cases, rebuild their relationships before they become more entrenched in their positions and without the delay of waiting for an investigation or panel hearing.
Allowing parties to develop their own solutions through settlement discussion is typically more effective, satisfactory and less expensive than the tribunal process. Settlement is particularly valuable when the relationship between the parties is likely to continue.
The Mediator will work with the parties to determine if they can come to an agreement. The Mediator may work with the parties individually and exchange settlement proposals over the phone, by email or in person. The Mediator is also available to facilitate more structured mediation processes to come to a resolution. Which process is most suitable will be determined in consultation with the parties.
Settlement discussions are usually done on a “without prejudice basis”. This means that if the parties do not come to an agreement, neither party is committed to the settlement they may have offered in the past. Formal mediations are confidential and information divulged during the mediation does not form part of the complaint file unless agreed to by the parties.
Generally, when the parties are able to come to a satisfactory resolution, a document is signed confirming the terms of the agreement (Memorandum of Settlement). While the Commission may assist in drafting the terms of a Memorandum of Settlement, our staff do not offer legal advice to the parties about settlement documents. Some matters require other documents to be signed, such as a Release, indicating that the Complainant will not take any other action. Once a settlement is reached the Commission closes the file.
Settlements can be reached with or without a finding or acknowledgment that the matter complained of was discriminatory. Settlements sometimes contain a confidentiality clause requiring the terms of the settlement to be kept private.
Settlements made through the Commission might include:
- making changes in a policy of a business or service,
- making changes to physical elements of a place of business or residential unit (grab bars in washrooms, a ramp etc.),
- re-employment of the Complainant,
- accommodation at the workplace (hours of work, physical space),
- an apology letter or letter of reference,
- financial compensation, or
- an agreement to participate in an education session presented by the Commission.
If a settlement is not reached, the Respondent may ask the Executive Director to review a settlement offer to determine if the settlement is fair and reasonable.
If after review the Executive Director decides that the settlement offer is fair and reasonable, the Executive Director may discontinue action on the complaint due to the Complainant’s failure to accept a fair and reasonable offer of settlement. This means that there will be no further investigation and no further discussion on the file. The file will be closed with no settlement or order being made.
If the Executive Director decides that the offer is not fair and reasonable or there is not sufficient information in the file to make the determination, the file will move to the investigative stage of the process.
The Executive Director can delegate her powers to another employee who will then be known as the Executive Director Delegate.
Yes, settlements between Complainants and Respondents may be reached at any time before a Human Rights Panel rules on a complaint. Even if the parties are unable to reach settlement during the early stages, the Executive Director may facilitate a settlement during the investigation or may refer the matter back to the Mediator if the parties wish to proceed with a mediation.
If a matter proceeds to a Panel Hearing, the Executive Director can still help the parties settle the complaint if the parties wish to explore settlement.
Did you know?
- In 1985 the Act was amended so that age was no longer restricted to those between 18 and 65.
- In 1978, the Commission received 42 complaints. In 2019, 80 complaints were received.
- In 1984, the Commission ruled that the PEI Hockey Association was discriminating on the basis of sex. Since the ruling, the PEI Hockey Association has seen a significant increase in female registration!