Court upholds decision of the Human Rights Commissioner that concluded there was insufficient evidentiary basis to move the complaint to a tribunal hearing

15. March 2022 0

Administrative law – Decisions reviewed – Human Rights Commission – Judicial review – Standard of review – Reasonableness – Human rights complaints – Discrimination – Race – Evidence

Wint v. Alberta (Human Rights Commission), [2022] A.J. No. 137, 2022 ABQB 87, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, January 31, 2022, D.R. Mah J.

The applicant applied for judicial review of a decision from the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals (Commissioner) upholding the dismissal of the applicant’s complaint of discrimination.

The applicant submitted a complaint regarding the allegedly racist conduct of the respondent and its employee. The applicant alleged the discrimination occurred when he was asked to confirm his position was safety sensitive which subjected him to random drug and alcohol testing. The applicant contended that he was incorrectly named as a subject in a workplace investigation. The respondent denied the allegations. Both parties agreed that the applicant did not suffer any employment consequences; however, these events caused stress, anxiety and racial trauma.

Under section 26(3)(a) of the Alberta Human Rights Act, the Commissioner conducts a documentary review of the matter to assess whether there is a reasonable basis for the information to proceed to a tribunal. The Commissioner can uphold the dismissal or send the complaint to a tribunal. In the instant case, the Commissioner concluded that there was no reasonable basis in the evidence to proceed to a hearing and the complaint was dismissed.

The Court concluded that its role was to assess the Commissioner’s decision on a reasonableness standard. With this context, the Court reviewed the Commissioner’s decision by observing that it considered the legal precedents, engaged with the evidence before it and understood the nature of the concerns. The Court distinguished the Commissioners decision with cases relied on by the applicant while declining to step in, engage in its own evidentiary analysis and come to a different conclusion.

The Court held that the Commissioner’s decision was internally coherent with a rational chain of analysis, which was evident in the reasons themselves or which could be inferred from the record, and is justified based on the law, the facts and the constraints imposed. The Court held that the Commissioner’s decision was reasonable and the application for judicial review was dismissed. The Court observed that the decision does not invalidate the applicant’s lived experience, but the decision only concluded there was an insufficient evidentiary basis to move this complaint to the next stage.

This case was digested by Jackson C. Doyle, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter.  If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Jackson C. Doyle at

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