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The process

Once a worker submits a discriminatory action complaint, the employer goes through the following process.

1. You’re informed of the discriminatory action complaint

Your involvement in the process begins once a worker contacts WorkSafeBC regarding a potential discriminatory action complaint.

If more information is required, a prevention officer will investigate the complaint. The prevention officer will provide you with a summary of the worker’s complaint and ask you to provide your version of events and copies of documentation relevant to the complaint.

It is up to you how much information you provide during the prevention officer’s investigation. You will have a formal opportunity to respond to the worker’s complaint during the adjudication phase. Keep in mind, under the Act, the burden of proof is on you to show that there has been no discriminatory action or failure to pay wages.

Both parties are free to resolve a complaint at any time on their own.  Workers are also free to withdraw complaints at any time. The prevention officer may ask you whether you are interested in settling the worker’s complaint.

Once the prevention officer’s investigation is complete, he or she will forward the information to the Compliance Section in WorkSafeBC’s Legal Services division. The Compliance Section is responsible for adjudicating discriminatory action complaints.

2. Our Compliance Section reviews the complaint

If there are no obvious issues with the complaint, the Compliance Section may invite both parties to participate in voluntary mediation.

Before mediation, we will provide you with full details of the complaint and subsequent investigation.

If a mediated settlement can’t be reached, we will invite you to submit a formal response to the complaint using our Discriminatory Action-Employer or Union Response form and one of our Investigations legal officers will make a decision on the complaint.

3. We decide if discriminatory action took place

If we find that discriminatory action took place, we will typically require further submissions from you and the worker on what remedy to award the worker. The primary object of the remedy award is to put the worker in the same position as the worker would have been if the discriminatory action or the failure to pay wages had not occurred. The Investigations legal officer will make a decision on the remedy award and you will be issued with one or more formal orders to remedy the worker’s situation.

If we decide that discriminatory action didn’t take place, we will dismiss the complaint and no orders will be issued.

Disagreeing with the decision

You may appeal the decision directly to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), as long as the appeal is within 90 days of the decision.

You may ask WCAT for a stay of proceedings until the appeal has been completed. Unless a stay has been granted, you must comply with the remedy order within the timeframe specified in the decision, even if the application for a stay or the appeal is outstanding.

Need advice or other help?

Contact your lawyer, employer association, or the Employers’ Advisers Office, which will provide advice free of charge.