Rejection of Reasonable Settlement Offer Grounds for Dismissal of Complaint

The BC Court of Appeal has confirmed that the Human Rights Tribunal may dismiss a complaint when a complainant rejects a reasonable settlement offer, on the grounds that a subsequent hearing would not further the purposes of the Human Rights Code.

The Court found that if the redress offered by a respondent approximates the relief sought by the complainant in the event the matter proceeded to hearing, then the aim of the Code has been satisfied and proceeding with a hearing would serve no purpose. Finding otherwise would undermine administrative efficiency and burden the Tribunal and parties with unnecessary expenditure of time and money.

The Court cautioned that the outcome of an application to dismiss a complaint where a settlement offer has been rejected will vary significantly depending on the facts of the case. The Tribunal may be more reluctant to dismiss a complaint on this basis where:

  • a finding of discrimination is of particular importance to the complainant;
  • the complainant is seeking additional remedies under the Code such as an order that the respondent implement a program to ameliorate the effects of discriminatory practices; or
  • where a wage loss claim is properly alleged and the settlement offer does not adequately address these issues.

Carter v. Travelex Canada Ltd. 2009 BCCA 180