Legal Insights / Fees / Human Rights Complaints: what is needed, timeline & fees

Human Rights Complaints: what is needed, timeline & fees

Apr 2 2024

The BC Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of protected personal characteristics. The most common areas we see complaints in are in relation to wages and employment, housing and services customarily available to the public.

Complaints of discrimination can be filed against individuals and/or organizations.


The BC Human Rights Tribunal provides a number of resources online outlining the complaint process here: Human rights complaint process – BC Human Rights Tribunal (


In general, complaints must be filed within 12 months of the discriminatory conduct taking place. There are some exceptions, including if the conduct is a “continuing contravention” and some of the conduct happened in the one year before the complaint was filed and if the tribunal can be persuaded that it is in the public interest to accept a late complaint.

The protected characteristics under the Human Rights Code are: indigenous identity, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, physical disability, mental disability, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age (19 or over), family status, marital status, religion, political belief, criminal conviction or lawful source of income. Most of the protected characteristics apply to each of the categories for unlawful discrimination (housing, services, employment), however there are some exceptions.

If your complaint relates to discrimination at work, additional information about your options is available here:

What WE Need

  1. A written summary containing your version of what took place, including the harm you experienced and what the specific conduct of each of the respondent(s) was.
  2. Any documents you have relating to the conduct, including such things as emails, letters or text messages from your employer/landlord/service provider, calling records, receipts and photographs
  3. A timeline with any important dates set out.
  4. What remedies you would like to see: order to stop the discrimination, declaration that the conduct is discrimination, steps or programs to address the discrimination, compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect, compensation for lost wages or other expenses relating to the complaint, anything else?
  5. If the complaint is being filed late, reasons why.

We recognize that depending on the nature of the conduct, it may be re-traumatizing for you to revisit it so putting together timelines, etc., may not be feasible. We will do what we can to support you through this process and protect your legal interests. We also recommend involving mental health professionals to ensure you are caring for your whole self.


The BC Human Rights Tribunal is extremely backlogged and is currently taking up to 10 months to acknowledge a complaint as filed before sending it to the respondent(s). The complaint only needs to be submitted to the Tribunal within the 1 year time limit, not formally received as it will be backdated to the date of filing.

Typically, we prepare complaints within 1 month of opening a file and receiving the information outlined above. It can take longer if we need to gather evidence but usually we can complete this process relatively quickly and we may continue investigations after the complaint has been filed if there is any concern around the time limit expiring.

If we have already completed an initial consult, we can file a complaint on a rush basis within 1 week, depending on lawyer availability.


First, you will need to have an initial consultation with one of our lawyers. More information about initial consults can be found by visiting our website here: Litigation Initial Consults: Frequently Asked Questions | Fees | The Legal Insights Blog | RDM Lawyers.

After the consultation, you will have the option of proceeding with unbundled services or full representations.

Unbundled services (also known as limited scope retainer): with this option, we would be specifically retained for the task of preparing and filing the human rights complaint and would not be identified as your legal representative. You would personally sign the complaint and we would provide your contact information (or the contact information for a support person you identify) for who the Tribunal should correspond with in the future. Our standard fee for this service is $1000 plus tax.

Full retainer: with this option, we would be retained to represent you on an ongoing basis with the complaint and we would include our information for communication with the Tribunal going forward. The retainer should be discussed during your initial consultation, however the range is typically $2000-$3000 and the fee for filing the complaint will depend on the time it takes to prepare it (generally around $1000). Any unused retainer will remain in our trust fund pending further work on your matter.


Please reach out to our Litigation Intake Team at 778.666.3723 or We will ask you some basic details regarding the parties involved and the nature of the dispute in order to complete a conflicts check and determine which member of our Employment & Human Rights team to schedule you with. We are typically able to schedule you to meet with a lawyer or articling student within a week.

If you already had a consult, please advise the Litigation Intake Team accordingly and we will make sure you get set up with the same lawyer and their assistant to receive a retainer letter and move forward with next steps.

Get in Touch


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