Following on its new complaint and application forms introduced
earlier this year, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal
recently issued new Rules of Practice and Procedure (the
"2014 Rules"), replacing its former Rules from January 2008. The 2014 Rules
are directed at reducing the number of rules and streamlining and
simplifying the complaint resolution process.
Some of the changes in the Tribunal's 2014 Rules that
employers should take note of include the following:
The Tribunal has done away with its previous "complaint
The Tribunal has better articulated resources under the new
Rules to defer complaints or adopt alternate processes to resolve
complaints. For example, Rule 16 permits the Tribunal to defer a
complaint if 1) another proceeding is capable of appropriately
dealing with the subject matter of the complaint; OR 2) it is fair
and reasonable in all of the circumstances to do so (both of which
require an application to the Tribunal, which can now be filed
prior to the filing of a response to complaint). Rule 17 expands
the flexibility for the Tribunal to address complaints, permitting
it to use "expedited or alternate" processes or timelines
to facilitate the just and timely resolution of a complaint. Rule
17 replaces former Rule 25, which required all parties to consent
to an expedited hearing, and is intended to be a flexible rule that
can be initiated by the parties, or the Tribunal itself;
The Tribunal has increased the time limits and streamlined the
process for filing an application to dismiss a complaint. Rule 19
extends the time limit for filing an application to dismiss a
complaint to 70 days following the filing of a response to
complaint (previously, a respondent had to file an application
within 70 days of the Tribunal's letter advising it had
accepted a complaint, or at the same time as its response following
an early settlement meeting), or 35 days from the date on which new
information to substantiate an application to dismiss is known
(which was 30 days under the previous Rules). In addition, if a
respondent wishes to file an application to dismiss on the basis
that it extended a reasonable settlement offer that was not
accepted by a complainant, a respondent must apply at least four
months prior to the date set for a hearing;
Parties' disclosure obligations under Rule 20 are more
clearly tied to the steps in the proceeding, such as the filing of
the response to complaint; and
Rule 21 requires parties to file an expert report 90 days
before the start of a hearing (previously 60 days).
More information about all of the changes in the Tribunal's
2014 Rules can be found here.
We'll be sure to keep you updated as to how the 2014 Rules
function in practice.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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