The Right to Respect: Expectations in the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s Complaint Process
1. Purpose and Scope
The Complaints Services Branch of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (Commission) is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for its employees and people participating in the complaint process. We will model the fundamental human rights principles of dignity and worth of every person, understanding and mutual respect in all interactions with the public.
We also expect that the people who participate in our complaint process will show respectful behaviour in their interactions with our employees, members, and other participants throughout their involvement with the Commission. This policy has two purposes:
- To clearly communicate our expectations around respectful behaviour for both Commission employees and participants in the complaint process.
- To highlight the rights that Commission employees have to enforce boundaries relating to respectful behaviour when interacting with participants in our complaint process.
This policy applies to all people who participate in the Commission’s human rights complaint process.
- Complaint process
- — means the process used by the Commission, at its discretion, to deal with inquiries and complaints, including mediation, conciliation, complaint assessment, investigation, and the Commission’s decision-making process.
- — Discrimination is an action or decision that results in a person or a group being treated negatively for reasons such as their race, age or disability. These reasons, also called grounds, are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- Disrespectful Behaviour
- — is a spectrum of behaviour that shows disrespect to others by treating another person in a demeaning, intimidating and/or aggressive way.
- — Harassment is a form of discrimination. It includes any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates you. Generally, harassment is a behaviour that persists over time. Serious one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment.
- Individual Needs
- — are specific needs related to one of the grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- — is any member of the public who participates in the Commission’s human rights complaint process.
- Respectful Behaviour
- — is a spectrum of behaviour that shows respect by treating another person with dignity, consideration, and patience.
3. Policy Framework
This policy is influenced by the fundamental human rights principles of dignity and worth of every person, understanding and mutual respect. The foundation of this policy is also rooted in the principles and expectations set out in Commission’s Service Commitments and its Complaint Rules.
4. Respectful Behaviour in the Complaint Process
Commission employees are committed to applying their expertise to provide a high level of service and accurate information to participants in a respectful manner. All Commission employees have the right to be treated with respect when providing complaint services.
It is expected that all participants in our complaint process will show respectful behaviour throughout their involvement with the Commission. We believe respectful behaviour contributes to an increased focus on achieving successful dispute resolution and a more positive experience for everyone involved in our complaint process.
A person’s behaviour becomes unacceptable when it is disrespectful. There are many ways a participant could show disrespectful behaviour within the complaint process, including:
- Threats and/or other forms of harassment
- Using offensive, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise hateful language, including personal insults
- Inappropriate contact with Commission employees or members, such as calling repeatedly throughout an hour or a day, or attempting to enter Commission offices that are closed to the public
- Making unreasonable demands on Commission employees or members, such as repeatedly demanding responses within timeframes that are outside of our service standards
- Abusing access to the Commission’s complaints process, by, for example, filing repeated complaints with the purpose of preventing the Commission or another organization from pursuing a legitimate process or implementing a legitimate decision
Disrespectful behaviour negatively influences the willingness of others to interact with the individual who is behaving disrespectfully; and is counter to the Commission’s vision of an inclusive society where everyone is valued and respected. When it happens, we have to take action to support our staff, other participants, and the integrity of the legal framework that we operate within.
5. Responding to Disrespectful Behaviour
In situations where a participant demonstrates disrespectful behaviour, Commission employees have the right to take action to stop the disrespectful behaviour. In some cases, this may mean taking immediate action to make the participant aware of the negative impact their behaviour is having on communications between the employee and the participant. Immediate action can also include ending communications with a participant, if their disrespectful behaviour persists or is particularly serious, such as threats or other forms of abuse.
In exceptional cases, where a participant continues to demonstrate disrespectful behaviour, the Commission may take steps to put the participant on a controlled communications plan. A controlled communications plan outlines specific measures to manage effective interactions between the Commission and a participant.
Controlled communications measures may include actions, such as:
- limiting contact with the participant or prescribing the form of communication that will be used (e.g. telephone calls by appointment only, written or third party communications only, contact with only one member of our staff, etc.)
- limiting the number of issues that we will deal with at one time, from one participant
Should this be necessary, the Commission will inform the participant what the specific measures will be, and how the participant can expect to interact with the Commission moving forward. Wherever possible, we will give participants the opportunity to change their behaviour before moving to controlled communications measures.
6. Monitoring and Reporting
The Commission’s Complaint Support Committee will monitor and review the effectiveness of this policy, as well as all related procedures as needed to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the Branch; and comply with the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Accessible Canada Act.
This means that the Commission will monitor the application of this policy and collect data to ensure that this policy is not applied in a way that creates barriers for any particular group of participants.
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