Taking action: What you can do if you’re discriminated against
Going to the Human Rights Review Tribunal
The Tribunal is independent of the Human Rights Commission. It has the powers of a court, and its proceedings are generally open to the public. Each side of the dispute has the opportunity to present their case. The Tribunal will then make a decision about whether the Human Rights Act 1993 has been breached and, if so, what should be done about it.
Will it cost me anything to take my case to the Tribunal?
If the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (OHRP) has decided to take your case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the OHRP will provide you with legal representation free of charge. You will not need to hire a lawyer yourself.
If the OHRP doesn’t take the case for you, you can still go to the Tribunal, but you’ll have to pay the costs of getting a lawyer yourself and you might be responsible for paying the other side’s costs.
What can the Human Rights Review Tribunal do about my complaint?
The Tribunal can order the other party:
- to pay you money (“damages:) for:
- any financial loss you’ve suffered
- the loss of any benefit, whether financial or non-financial, that you might otherwise have had
- any humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings that you’ve suffered
- not to continue or repeat the discrimination
- to do particular things to put right any loss or damage you’ve suffered.
What happens at the Human Rights Review Tribunal?
If your case goes to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, you’ll have to show the Tribunal:
- first, that the discrimination was on one of the illegal grounds,
- second, that it was in one of the relevant areas of life (like applying for a job or a flat), and
- third, that you were disadvantaged by it.
But if the person who discriminated against you thinks there’s an exception that justifies what they did, they will try to convince the Tribunal of this, rather than you having to show that the exception didn’t apply in your case. The legal term for this issue is “the burden of proof” (or “onus of proof”) – so when it comes to exceptions that allow discrimination, the other person bears the burden of proving that the exception applies in your case.