Making a Human Rights Complaint in BC

  • Recorded on: February 27, 2024

  • Length: 60 minutes


Lawyers Cayleigh Shiff from the Community Legal Assistance Society and Katherine Hardie from the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal answer common questions about making a human rights complaint in BC.


In this webinar, you will learn:

Introduction to discrimination

  • What discrimination is and which characteristics are protected by law. [3:55]

  • What the BC Human Rights Tribunal is and the role it plays in protecting British Columbians from discrimination. [9:10]

  • Where, in addition to your workplace, you’re protected from discrimination. [11:20]

  • What a duty to accommodate is and how far it extends. [13:20]

Before (or instead of) filing a formal complaint

  • What you can do if you think you have been discriminated against in a retail store, other than making a formal complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. [18:35] 

  • What you can do if you think you’ve been discriminated against at work, other than filing a formal complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal. [20:45]

Making a human rights complaint

  • Whether a human rights complaint must be filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal or whether it could be filed with the courts. [23:20]

  • What a person can gain from pursuing their human rights complaint. [25:25]

  • How to initiate a human rights complaint, whether a lawyer is required, and whether there are free or low-cost ways to get help. [28:40]

  • The steps you can expect in the complaint process with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, including whether you must testify in front of the person who discriminated against you. [33:50]

  • Factors to consider before filing a human rights complaint. [38:10]

  • How to set yourself up so that your complaint has the greatest chance of success. [44:15]

Live questions

  • Whether, in a dispute hearing before the Residential Tenancy Branch, an arbitrator can make a decision about whether there was discrimination. [48:00]

  • At what point microaggressions would amount to discrimination. [49:30]

  • Whether intent is relevant in assessing whether something amounts to discrimination. [52:00]

  • What you can do if you live in a condo and you think the strata rules were applied differently against your family because of your special needs son. [53:40]

  • What to do if you can’t file a human rights complaint within a year because it will further negatively impact your safety or human rights. [55:35]


Cayleigh Shiff

Cayleigh Shiff

Cayleigh is a lawyer for the Human Rights Clinic at the Community Legal Assistance Society. She represents people who have experienced discrimination and assists complainants in navigating the BC Human Rights Tribunal process. She has a passion for social justice work and making legal information more accessible. Cayleigh earned her J.D. from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC in 2019 and was called to the bar in 2020.

Katherine Hardie

Katherine Hardie

Katherine Hardie has been a lawyer with the BC Human Rights Tribunal since 1998. Before that, she was a lawyer with an advocacy clinic, Legal Aid BC, and a law firm practicing employment and labour law. Katherine frequently presents on issues related to administrative tribunals and human rights. She currently volunteers with the Canadian Council of Administrative Tribunals, as a board member, chair of the Tribunal Excellence Committee, and member of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

Attendee feedback

“Thank you very much for a clear and informative webinar! Appreciate your time and knowledge.”

“This was very clearly presented. Language used was at the right level for the public to understand. This is my first webinar with People's Law School. I highly recommend them!!”

“Very well presented. Found the Q&A to be really helpful. Thank you!”

“Very informative, will help me advise clients as to if they should file a complaint and what other options they have.”

“Thank you for organizing this webinar today... it was a pleasure attending 🙂”

“I appreciate being able to access this information online. A great team. Thank you.”

"I enjoyed the session on human rights as I am familiar with it already and it is always helpful to obtain a refresher. Keep up the good work!"

"Thank you for your free help. Also having it at 12 noon allows more people to access. Much appreciated."

“All your webinars are informative and add to my general knowledge on many everyday legal issues.”

Additional resources

From People’s Law School:

From the BC Human Rights Tribunal:

From the BC Human Rights Clinic at Community Legal Assistance Society:

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This website explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada. The information is not intended as legal advice. The cases we refer to reflect real experiences, but names have been changed. See our full disclaimer.

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