If you are wanting to file a complaint through the Human Rights Tribunal, you can contact the Human Rights Clinic and ask them all of your questions so you can properly fill out the form and be in the best position for the Tribunal to accept your complaint. There is a lot of information that I cannot post publicly on a blog so feel free to reach out to me.
I have written many blogs and have other pages on this website all connected to accommodation and human rights. Lots to explore.
Want to know if you have legal grounds to file a human rights complaint? This link is directly from the HRT website.
New resources for understanding the BC Human Rights System
A groundbreaking case now allows parents to be attached to their child’s human rights complaints. File under family status. http://www.speakingupbc.com/2022/04/08/groundbreaking-bc-hrt-accepts-parent-application-on-childs-complaint/
Human Rights Clinic
Duty to Accommodate
Here are great links to understand the duty to accommodate connected to the duty to co-operate, and the duty to inquire.
Here is also an important link, you can attend the public hearings and see what a hearing looks like at the Human Rights Tribunal.
Things that are not explained explicitly but is good to know….
Disclaimer: The system and processes are always changing and modifying, so ALWAYS refer to the Human Rights Tribunal website for the most updated information. Always ask your case manager, the tribunal, AND/OR a lawyer.
- You can ask the respondents to unredact any documents you receive through your Freedom of Information request from the school district. If the respondents refuse you can submit a general application for the respondents to unredact their documents.
- As a parent self representing for a minor, you can submit an application to close the hearing so it is not open to the public. Your hearing information will also not be posted on their website on the hearing list.
- You can also anonymize the complaint to protect your child’s identity.
- Apply to the Human Rights Clinic for free legal consultation, even if you think your income might be too high. They take everything into consideration when deciding to accept you or not.
- There are lots of YouTube videos on law and mediation. Get informed. There isn’t information on the HRT website specific to education which means you are going to need to get informed through research yourself. Read up on as many education cases as possible on Canlii.
- For human rights reasons, you need to have your child’s diagnosis documented at their school or your human rights complaint can be dismissed.
- If you realize after legal consultation that you should be amending your complaint. Depending on how far along in the process you may be able to do that. You can apply. You need to make an application, to amend your complaint and add in, what is called “particulars”, that you may learn are important as you seek legal advice or your own learning.
- When you save your files, number all of them to match the number list of your 9.1 form and label them that match 75% of what you have written as your description. The 9.1 form is the running list of all of the documents you are disclosing to the respondents. This will save you time when you create your final book of documents at the end, and it will be easy to create the bookmark list that you will be required to make for the hearing.
- Read the rules and procedures and the guide from the HRT. Print it off and know it and refer back to it. You are expected to know what is on the HRT website. You will be referring to it, as a guide. I have seen case law around an unrepresented person who tried to use the excuse that they didn’t know, and the HRT didn’t accept it since the information was posted on the website.
- For your own testimony, you can bring in evidence things that you saw on a website, conversations you had, emails you wrote, pictures you took, etc. Anything you have direct knowledge of. Consult with a lawyer or BC Human rights clinic on what you feel is the best evidence.
- Feel free to make applications for documents for anything that they refuse to give you. That is what the process is there for. Always ask for things you think are relevant. Just be prepared that you are going to need to prove that they are relevant. Which means, a connection to your original complaint that you submitted. Things are going to be more relevant than you may think. Context is everything. You can also ask for things that you think question the credibility of the witness. Assume they haven’t given you everything, and you need to put on your Nancy Drew hat and figure out what could possibly be missing.
- For the document disclosure, if they give you something, you then need to put it on your document disclosure list and send it back to them or you won’t be able to use it. They are counting on that you won’t know that you need to do that, and you will lose valuable evidence given to you by them because when it comes to final submission then they will whittle down their list and exclude what they don’t want you to have access to. Thank you, public hearing, for learning that!
- They may not give you all the documents you need in the first document disclosure. They may also pick out emails they have no plans on using, but they know will stir up an emotional response in you. They will also make it as large and bulky as possible to try and intimidate you. All the documents they disclose to you are not necessarily ones they will put forth in their final document package for the hearing, and they may not even refer to it during the hearing. Expect documents may come along later, especially when they realize that you won’t be settling. Then you’ll get the real document disclosure. The first one, could be just for show.
- You can enter in emails or documents that you “authored” (wrote) into evidence. You can also enter in things that you didn’t write, but you will be entering these documents not for “the truth of its contents but to support the narrative”. This could be newspaper articles or other items that you want to use to support your truth telling. Listening to hearings that involve two lawyers argue things out can be really great learning.
- You cannot enter documents that were “authored” (written) by someone else. That is hearsay. You will need to make the person who wrote it a witness if you want to enter that evidence for the truth of its contents. There is some flexibility around this at the tribunal level as you may use it for other witnesses questioning.
- You can read your opening statement from something that you have written. Your opening statement will be an overview of your complaint, what you will be proving in your case, and what you are asking for from the HRT.
- After you reach the pre-conference meeting that is designed to happen closely before the hearing, they will provide another opportunity for a mediator to contact you and see if mediation can happen before the hearing. So even if you refuse a settlement meeting earlier on, they will give you a last chance opportunity to see if the parties can reach a resolution. You can refuse to participate in this, it’s completely voluntary and cannot be used against you.
- When you get the notice for a pre-conference hearing, ask that both parties submit an agenda so that you are prepared to know what will be discussed. The reason for this is connected to procedural fairness, and as an unrepresented person in this process, you need to be more prepared for topics than what experienced lawyers need to be. The tribunal will grant this for you. Then the lawyers can’t spring topics on you that you aren’t prepared for.
- You are allowed to have a person other than you represent your complaint. They will take on the role of an “agent”. Similar to that of a lawyer, even though they aren’t. They need to do this on a voluntary basis and cannot ask you for compensation.
- You may also want to ask permission to bring a note-taker with you. You do have access to the audio recordings of the hearing after the hearing is complete to help you write your written closing, if needed.
- If your goal is to achieve a settlement for your child and policy changes through a settlement, all the power to you. I will never judge a parent for not taking their case to a hearing and accepting a settlement. This process is not going to be a wanted path for everyone. Not everyone is going to have the same goal when they start out in this process. Just be aware that policy changes are not enforceable by the courts. So, if they don’t comply and don’t follow through, then a court can’t make them. Only certain settlement items are enforceable by the courts, and this is where you will always want to seek a lawyer to review the details of the settlement before you sign it.
- This process is SLOW. You will have time to take everything step by step. You won’t be doing this all at once. Time can actually be on your side with this. The fact that you will have lots of time to deal with each step can be beneficial and allow you the emotional processing and research time that is needed. However, if your situation is dire, you can apply for them to consider it an emergency. Again, read the website on how to do that and what criteria you need to meet.
**If at anytime you feel the process is unfair or you are being treated unfairly by the respondents, please contact your case manager for help. It is the HRT’s responsibility to make sure that your process is fair.