A printable PDF version of this information sheet is available.
When a complaint alleging discrimination is filed with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, two methods may be used to reach a resolution to the dispute. The first is conciliation; the second is investigation.
Conciliation is a voluntary, non-adversarial approach to resolving disputes in which a neutral person, known as a conciliator, helps the complainant and the respondent (the parties in the dispute) to identify the issues, discuss the factors surrounding these issues and generate possible solutions. The objective of conciliation is to reach a settlement which is acceptable to both parties without going through an investigation. To ensure the parties are as forthright as possible, all discussions and any information supplied by the parties will be on a "without prejudice basis" and will not be used for any purpose other than the conciliation.
Investigation is the impartial collection and examination of facts around the complaint. The objective of investigation is to determine whether the complaint has merit. An investigation is conducted if conciliation is inappropriate, unsuccessful or declined by either party. (See Fact Sheet titled Complaint Process)
Although complaints may be mailed to the Commission, when a complaint is made in person, an intake officer may assist the complainant to fill out the proper forms. The intake officer does not assess the merits of the complaint.
After the complaint has been filed, the case is assigned to a conciliator, who will attempt to bring about a settlement of the complaint by assisting the parties to agree to a mutually acceptable solution.
During conciliation, it is the parties themselves who make any decisions to resolve the dispute. The conciliator simply helps them understand the issues and come to a mutually acceptable solution.
The conciliator remains neutral during the process and does not judge the issues. The conciliator does not have the authority to impose any solution or decision on the parties. The Commission recognizes the rights of both parties to the complaint and, during conciliation, does not act on behalf of either party.
If conciliation is unsuccessful or if one of the parties declines conciliation, the case will be reassigned to an investigator. The investigator will report the investigation results, analyze the results in terms of human rights law and recommend a remedy if appropriate. (See information sheet titled Remedy)
Each case is unique. Conciliation may be influenced by the degree of the alleged discrimination, specific facts of the incident and the evidence available.
Conciliation is often successful because any settlement decisions have been made jointly by both parties who share "ownership" of the decision and respect the outcome.
Please note: A complaint must be made to the Alberta Human Rights Commission within one year after the alleged incident of discrimination. The one-year period starts the day after the date on which the incident occurred. For help calculating the one-year period, contact the Commission.
Due to confidentiality concerns, the Commission cannot reply to complaints of discrimination using the Internet. Please contact the Commission by telephone or regular mail if you have a specific complaint.
You can access information about making FOIP requests for records held by the Commission on our Contact us page.
The Commission will make publications available in accessible multiple formats upon request. Multiple formats provide access for people with disabilities who do not read conventional print.