Once a worker submits a prohibited action (formerly known as a discriminatory action) complaint, the employer goes through the following process.
1. You’re informed of the prohibited action complaint
Your involvement in the process begins once a worker contacts WorkSafeBC regarding a potential prohibited action complaint.
If more information is required, a prevention officer will make inquiries related to 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 inquiry. 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 prohibited action or failure to pay wages.
Both you and the worker are free to resolve a complaint at any time on your 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 inquiry is complete, he or she will forward the information to the lawyers at WorkSafeBC who are responsible for adjudicating prohibited action complaints.
2. Our prohibited action complaint team reviews the complaint
If there are no obvious issues with the complaint, we may invite you and the worker to participate in voluntary mediation, at no cost to you.
Before mediation, we will provide you with full details of the complaint and subsequent inquiry.
If a mediated settlement can’t be reached, we will invite you to submit a formal response to the complaint and one of our lawyers will make a decision on the complaint.
3. We decide if prohibited action took place
If we find that prohibited action took place, we will typically require further submissions from you and the worker on what remedy to award the worker. The primary objective of the remedy award is to put the worker in the same position as the worker would have been in if the prohibited action or the failure to pay wages had not occurred. The lawyer 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 prohibited 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.