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The process

The information below will help you understand the process of a handling a prohibited action (formerly known as a discriminatory action) complaint.

1. You contact us

If you think you have experienced prohibited action, you should call our Prevention information line at 604.276.3100 to report it. If more information is required, one of our prevention officers may call you to get further details of your complaint.

The officer may ask for your verbal consent to speak with your employer about the complaint. If you provide this consent, we will provide a summary of your complaint to your employer or union (for this section, any reference to ‘employer’ can also mean ‘union’) and your identity will be revealed.

The burden of proof is on the employer to show there has been no prohibited action or failure to pay wages. Accordingly, your employer may wish to provide an informal response to your complaint at this stage.

Both you and your employer are free to resolve a complaint at any time on your own. In some cases, the officer’s involvement can help you and your employer to resolve the issues. You are also free to withdraw your complaint at any time. Alternately, you can file a formal, written complaint.

Whether you consent to the inquiry or not, the prevention officer will still address the health and safety issues you raised with your employer. They won’t however, discuss the prohibited action complaint with your employer unless you have provided consent for them to do so.

2. You file a prohibited action complaint

Complaints must be submitted, in writing, as follows:

  • Prohibited action complaints must be submitted to us in writing within one year of the prohibited action
  • Failure to pay wages complaints must be submitted to us in writing within 60 days after the wages should have been paid

Your complaint must be in writing and submitted to WorkSafeBC – calling the Prevention information line and talking to an officer is not enough.

If you have filed a grievance with your union on the same matter, you cannot pursue a prohibited action complaint with us at the same time. To preserve your right to a prohibited action complaint, you can submit your complaint but you must then elect whether to pursue a grievance with your union or a prohibited action complaint with us. You cannot do both.

Similarly, if you have also brought a Human Rights complaint to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal on the same matter, your prohibited action complaint will be suspended pending the outcome of the Human Rights Tribunal hearing.

3. Our prohibited action complaint team reviews the complaint

If your complaint isn’t settled during the preliminary inquiry stage, and there are no obvious issues with your written complaint, we may invite you and your employer to participate in voluntary mediation.

At this point, we will provide your employer with full details of your complaint and any subsequent material collected during the prevention officer’s inquiries.

If a mediated settlement can’t be reached or if you or your employer decide not to mediate, one of our lawyers will, after weighing all of the evidence provided by both parties, prepare a written decision as to whether a prohibited action occurred.

As part of this adjudication process, your employer will be invited to file a formal response to your complaint and you will have the opportunity to submit a written reply to your employer’s submission.

4. We decide if prohibited action took place

If we find that prohibited action took place, based on a full review of all the relevant information, we will typically require further submissions from you and the employer on what remedy to award you. The lawyer will make a decision on the remedy award and issue the employer one or more formal orders to remedy the situation.

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

If you disagree with the decision

Both employers and workers may appeal the decision directly to our Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) as long as the appeal is within 90 days of the decision.