What happens after a complaint is made
1. Assessment decision
The first thing that is done is the complaint is assessed against the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner makes a decision on whether the complaint should be accepted for investigation or rejected.
The Commissioner must decide whether to
- accept a complaint for investigation, or
- reject the complaint within 42 days after receiving it.
Acceptance of a complaint for investigation does not mean that a decision has been made that anyone has discriminated or done something unlawful. It means the complaint shows that the possibility of unlawful discrimination or conduct exists.
2. Notification of assessment decision
The person who made the complaint (the complainant) will get a letter from the Commissioner telling them if their complaint has been accepted or rejected.
If the complaint has been rejected, the letter will include the Commissioner's reasons for that decision. The complainant can apply to the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have the Commissioner's decision reviewed. The letter will tell the complainant how to apply for a review.
If the complaint has been accepted, the letter will include a summary of the complaint with details of the focus of the Commissioner's investigation. The person or organisation against whom the complaint has been made (the respondent) will also be sent a letter with a copy of the complaint and a summary of issues and asked to respond.
3. Early resolution option
The complainant and the respondent(s) will be asked if they want to try to resolve the complaint quickly. If they both do, a meeting will be arranged so they can talk about possible solutions. The Commissioner may decide that the complainant and respondent(s) should meet to try to resolve the complaint at this stage even if they do not want to.
Agreements reached in an early resolution meeting are binding on the parties.
If the complaint is not resolved early it will be investigated. This can include collecting evidence such as witness statements and relevant documents from the complainant, the respondent, witnesses and other third parties.
5. Investigation decision
At the end of the investigation, the Commissioner considers all of the materials collected in the investigation and decides whether the complaint should:
- Be dismissed;
- Proceed to conciliation; or
- Be referred to the Tribunal for an inquiry
The Commissioner does not have authority to decide whether or not the discrimination or other unlawful conduct took place. This is the role of the Tribunal.
If a complaint is dismissed, the complainant has a right to ask the Tribunal to review that decision. The Act sets a 6-month time limit from when the respondent was first notified of the complaint for the investigation decision to be made, unless the complainant grants an extension of time for the investigation to continue.