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Guide to filling out a Human Rights Application Form

 

Human Rights Commission Process

What we do?

The Human Rights Act is a provincial law that protects people in Newfoundland and Labrador from discrimination and harassment. The Human Rights Commission is the government agency that administers the Human Rights Act.

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when you are treated differently, unfairly or unequally because of certain personal characteristics. These personal characteristics (or prohibited grounds) are listed in section 9 of the Human Rights Act.

What is harassment?

Harassment is any objectionable or offensive behavior that is known, or should reasonably be known, to be unwelcome. Harassment may be intended or unintended.

Harassment will normally involve a series of incidents; however, a single incident may be harassment if it would be considered severe or extreme to a reasonable person.

Some possible examples of harassment include:

  • Verbal abuse, yelling, or threats;
  • Degrading or offensive remarks;
  • Spreading malicious gossip or rumours;
  • Inappropriate communication through email, social media, or texts;
  • Actual or threatened physical contact of an unwelcomed nature; or
  • Bullying or intimidation.

Abuse of authority, discriminatory harassment, and sexual harassment are also all forms of harassment. [1]

[1] See the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Harassment Free Workplace Policy, June 2018.

What is the Human Rights Application Form?

When you first contact our office you may be asked to fill out a Human Rights Application Form. The Human Rights Application Form is your chance to tell us some general information about your allegations. The information contained in the Human Rights Application Form will help us determine if “reasonable grounds” exist to accept your complaint.

Can the Human Rights Commission accept my complaint?

We only have jurisdiction (or the ability to act) where:

  • The alleged complaint occurred within certain protected areas:
    • at work or while looking for work
    • membership in a trade union
    • accessing public services, such as health care, education, stores and restaurants
    • renting a home or an apartment or leasing a business space
    • publications
    • contracts
  • The alleged complaint is based on one of the prohibited grounds (e.g. disability, race, religion).
  • The alleged complaint is made within one year of the alleged contravention.
  • The alleged contravention occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Human Rights Commission deals with complaints of discrimination and harassment in a way that is independent, unbiased and neutral. The Commission does not represent the Complainant or the Respondent. The Human Rights Commission process is confidential between the parties. That means that any relevant information will be disclosed to the opposite party.

For example:

The Human Rights Commission can accept your complaint if a landlord refuses to rent to you because you are on social assistance and have small children.

Not all unfair situations, however, fall under the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission. The Commission cannot accept your complaint if you are having problems with a co-worker or supervisor because of a personality conflict rather than one of the prohibited grounds. The situation might not be acceptable or be considered respectful workplace behaviour, but in this situation the treatment would not be considered discriminatory.

There are also some exceptions listed in the Human Rights Act. For more information on whether your situation might fall under one of these exceptions contact our office here.

You will be notified if the Human Rights Commission can accept your complaint. However, acceptance of a complaint, does not mean that your allegations are proven. It only means that the Commission has determined that the complaint falls within its jurisdiction and that you have supplied enough information for the Commission to believe that there may have been a contravention of the Human Rights Act.

The person claiming that they were discriminated against or harassed is called the Complainant. The person or organization the Complainant claims discriminated against or harassed them is called the Respondent. There can be more than one Respondent.

Getting Started

You do not need a lawyer to fill out the Human Rights Application Form. Get help from family, friends or another support person, if you wish. You can also contact our office for more information.

The Human Rights Commission can’t advise you on what information to include in the Application Form. However, we can assist you if you want to fill out the Application Form over the phone, in person or in another alternate format.

Once you’ve read everything and familiarized yourself with the process, collect any information you think might be important (letters, emails, dates etc.) so that you can easily reference it while filling out the Application Form.

You will not be able to save this document while filling it out. You can either fill it out all at once or answer the questions in a separate word document and then cut and paste your answers back into the Human Rights Application Form.

It is very important that you answer all of the questions to the best of your ability. If it is easier, use point form.

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What is a safe senders list?

Adding an email to a safe senders list prevents an email program from mistakingly identifying an email as junk/spam, which either marks it as junk/spam or moves it to a junk/spam folder. You can add the email address humanrights@gov.nl.ca to your safe senders list to ensure our responses to you are not marked as junk/spam. Click here to view instructions on how to add an email address to your safe senders list.

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Why is your contact information important?

We will be sending you information on a regular basis so we need your current contact information.

Let us know if your contact information ever changes. If accepted, your complaint may be considered abandoned if we can’t contact you.

You may be asked to provide alternate contact information. Commission staff will get this information from you later.

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How is your personal information protected?

If your complaint is accepted, this Application Form will be disclosed to the Respondent(s) so that they may properly respond to the complaint.

Your personal contact information will not be given to the respondent(s) or any person or organization outside the Commission unless required by law (e.g. Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.)

The collection and disclosure listed above is authorized under sections 61(c) and 68(1)(b) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2015. If you have any questions regarding this collection or disclosure please contact the Human Rights Commission at 729-2709 or 1-888-563-5808.

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Who are you complaining about?

Name each company, business, organization, association or person you believe is responsible for the discrimination or harassment. You can name more than one company, business, organization, association or person.

The proper names and addresses can be found:

  • On a record of employment, a paystub, a T4 slip
  • On a business card or letterhead
  • In the phone book or advertisement
  • On the company website under “contact us”
  • On a rental agreement
  • On a contract

Check on-line for the name/email address of the owner/head/CEO of the company, business, organization, association or person. Don’t worry if you can’t find this. Commission staff can help with this later.

For example:

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Why does the discrimination or harassment have to take place in Newfoundland and Labrador?

The Human Rights Commission only has jurisdiction (ability to act) over a provincially regulated company, business, organization or association. However, provincially regulated businesses can operate outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. If you’re not clear about jurisdiction contact the Registry of Deeds https://cado.eservices.gov.nl.ca/CADOInternet/Main.aspx or call our office for help.

The Human Rights Commission cannot accept a complaint against an organization that falls under federal jurisdiction. Organizations or activities that generally fall under federal jurisdiction include:

  • Chartered banks
  • Airlines
  • Television and radio stations
  • Telephone companies
  • Organizations that transport people or goods between provinces or countries such as certain trucking companies, courier companies, bus lines and railways

If your allegations are directed at the federal government or an organization which is under federal jurisdiction contact the:

Canadian Human Rights Commission
344 Slater Street, 8th Floor, Ottawa, ON K1A 1E1
Website: http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca
Phone: 613-995-1151
Toll-free: 1-888-214-1090
TTY: 1-888-643-3304
Fax: 613-996-9661

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When did the incident you are complaining about happen?

The Human Rights Commission cannot accept a complaint if the discrimination or harassment occurred more than a year ago. The Commission is not able to extend the one-year limitation period.

The Human Rights Commission can accept a complaint if you’re complaining about related or similar conduct that occurred more than a year ago, but that continues to the present day. This is called a continuing contravention.

Example:

  • January 15, 2017 – your manager sent you unwanted emails of a sexual nature
  • January 20, 2017 – you complained to your employer about your manager, but they did nothing.
  • March 12, 2017 – your manager touched you inappropriately.
  • February 25, 2018 – your Human Rights Application Form is accepted as a complaint.

Even though you called us more than one year after the January 2017 incidents, all three events are related or similar because they each involve your employer’s responsibility for a harassment-free workplace.

If there are gaps between the related or similar conduct, explain why.

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Describe what happened to you?

Tell your story in the order that it happened. It might be easier to start at the beginning and end with the last incidence of discrimination and/or harassment.

Use point form if it is easier.

It may not be possible to raise new incidents of discrimination or harassment later in the process if they are not mentioned in the Application Form. It is very important to include every incident of discrimination or harassment.

Explain with specific examples and include the following:

  • What happened?
  • Who was involved (include names)?
  • When it happened (day/month/year)?
  • Where it happened?
  • Were there any witnesses?

Use quotation marks (“”) to show when you are repeating the words that another person said.

You need to also show how what happened is connected to one of the protected areas:

  • at work or while looking for work
  • membership in a trade union
  • accessing public services, such as health care, education, stores and restaurants
  • renting a home or an apartment or leasing a business space
  • publications
  • contracts

For example:

  • On September 27th, my supervisor at work and the HR Manager met with me and told me that I was missing too much time off from work. I told them that I have depression and sometimes have to miss work because of it. I said that I would be willing to work with them to ensure that work got done on time. They said I would have to “try to do better” and to not “miss more work in the future”. A month later, I had to miss a few days from work because of my depression. I gave my supervisor a medical note but he told me “it wasn’t good enough”. He seemed really mad at me. A week later I was called to another meeting with my supervisor and Anna from H.R. and was fired. I tried to remind them about my depression and my need for supports, but they didn’t seem to care.
  • I was hired approximately one year ago as a sales associate. I work very hard and always try my best. Ever since I started work, my supervisor says really inappropriate things to me. Last week, he asked me to have drinks with him after work. I said no, but felt really uncomfortable. The next day, he grabbed me and tried to kiss me in an empty meeting room. I told the owner of the company what was happening and she told me to “try to get over it” and that my supervisor “didn’t mean anything by it.” She said “that’s just the way he is.” My performance at work has suffered because of this. I spend all my time avoiding my supervisor and I don’t feel supported by the owner of the company. My employer has done nothing to stop the sexual harassment. I feel my supervisor targeted me because I am the only young woman working at the company.

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Why do you feel that the discrimination or harassment you experienced is based on one or more of the prohibited grounds you checked in Question 8?

This section must show some connection between your allegations of discrimination or harassment and your personal characteristics (or prohibited grounds). You must provide specific examples of why you feel this way. Was something specific said to you? Or was it just a feeling that you had? Were you the only one treated this way?

You need to be able to show that the prohibited ground was at least a factor in the discriminatory treatment or harassment.

Sometimes the connection to one of the prohibited grounds is clear.

For example:

  • I am blind and use a service animal. When I went into the restaurant, the server said “you can’t bring your pet in here.” I feel I was discriminated against because of my disability.
  • I was born outside of Canada. During the interview, the interviewer said “you have an accent, where were you born?” The interview was very short after that and I felt that the interviewer was not interested in me once she knew where I was born. I have lots of relevant work experience. I think I was discriminated against because of my nationality.

Sometimes the connection to one of the prohibited grounds is not clear. You will need to explain in detail why you feel there is a connection.

For example:

  • I am an indigenous person. I called to see an apartment that was for rent. The landlord said it was available and that I should come over to see it. When I arrived at the apartment, the landlord appeared nervous and looked me up and down. He didn’t say anything specific to me, but I got the sense that he was not interested in renting to me. Before I was shown the apartment, the landlord told me that it had just been rented. A friend of mine called two days later and the apartment was still for rent. I think I was discriminated against because of my race, colour, ethnic and social origin.
  • I am 4 months pregnant. I told people at work that I am expecting a baby. Two weeks later, my boss fired me out of the blue. I was very surprised. I’ve always done a good job at work. No one else was let go at the time and the company is now advertising to fill my old position. I think I was fired because my boss found out I was pregnant.

Sometimes the connection to one of the prohibited grounds is because you need an accommodation.

For example:

  • I have a disability and need an accommodation to get a service. You should tell us what your disability is, how you were affected and what specific accommodation you need.
  • I need a religious accommodation at work. You should tell us what your religion is, how you were affected and what specific accommodation you need.

Read over what you have written and make sure it is clear how the prohibited grounds relate to you and what happened.

For example:

  • If your complaint is about your age, make sure you tell us how old you are.
  • If you think you were fired because of a disability, make sure you tell us why you believe this.

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Tell us how this negatively impacted you?

Tell us what effect the discrimination or harassment had on you.

For example:

  • Your dignity, feelings or self-respect were damaged
  • You lost an opportunity for promotion
  • You were denied the opportunity to rent an apartment
  • You were denied a service or access to a store or restaurant

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Have you tried to resolve this on your own?*

If it’s safe, you have a responsibility to try to resolve this problem on your own. We can help you with this before you fill out the Human Rights Application Form. Contact our office for help navigating these other options.

  • We can refer you to other community supports that might help.
  • We can refer you to other government services that might help.
  • We can refer you to the Public Legal Information Association for free legal information. http://publiclegalinfo.com/
  • We can refer you to another dispute resolution process such as a union grievance or a respectful workplace complaint with your employer.
  • Where appropriate, we can coach you about how to talk about discrimination and harassment with others.
  • We can give you basic information about employment or housing issues.

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Please attach any documents that may be relevant to this complaint.

To attach a document(s):

  • Click the Select files button below.
  • Browse your computer to locate the desired document(s). Click on the desired document. To select multiple documents, hold Ctrl while clicking on the desired documents or click, hold and drag over the desired documents.
  • Click Open.
  • Alternatively, you can select the files from your computer and drag them into the box below.