Making a Complaint
How do I file a complaint? If you feel our boss has violated your rights under employment standards law, you can file a complaint by phone, in writing or in person at the nearest office of the Commission des normes du travail. Contact the Commission des normes du travail.
If your complaint is about a prohibited practice (see below) you can also file it at the Office of the Labour Commissioner General or the Minister of Labour.
Are there time limits? Yes. If you believe your employer owes you money, you have one year to file a complaint. If your complaint is about a prohibited practice, you have 45 days from the date the problem occurred. In the case of retirement, the time limit for filing a complaint is 90 days from the dismissal, suspension or forced retirement.
You can file a complaint about an unjust dismissal up to 45 days after your employment ended. Unjust dismissal complaints can only be filed if:
- You had three years of uninterrupted service with your employer.
- If no other process, other than recovering damages, is provided for in the Labour Standards Act, in another act or in an agreement.
What are prohibited practices? It's illegal for your boss to fire, suspend, transfer, punish or discriminate against you for any of the following reasons:
- You exercised your rights under labour standards law.
- You gave information or evidence relating to a labour standards investigation or proceeding.
- Your wages were seized or might be seized.
- Because you are a debtor of support subject to the Act to facilitate the payment of support;
- Because you are pregnant.
- Because your boss wants to go around the labour standards law.
- Because you refused to work beyond your regular hours of work due to care, health or education responsibilities towards your child, and you were unable to make alternate arrangements.
- Because you were absent from work for less than 17 weeks in the preceding 12 months due to illness or accident (other than an industrial accident or an occupational disease). However, you must have at least three months of uninterrupted service.
- Because you've reached or passed the age or the number of years of service needed for retirement.
What happens after I file a complaint? If the complaint is about money and the commission accepts it, it will take steps to have the money paid to you.
Prohibited practices The commission will tell the employer a complaint has been filed and assign one of its staff to offer mediation to try to resolve the problem.
If no agreement is reached, you will be offered free legal services for a hearing before the labour commissioner. Free legal services are offered unless you are a union member or unless you want to use your own lawyer. The burden of proof in the hearing is on your employer.
The labour commissioner can accept or reject your complaint and issue an order.
Unjust dismissal If the commission refuses your complaint of unjust dismissal, it will notify you in writing. You can ask in writing for a review of this decision up to 15 days after the decision is rendered.
If the commission accepts your complaint, it will notify you and inform the employer about the complaint. A staff person will be assigned to offer mediation to try to resolve the problem.
If the problem is not resolved, you can ask that your complaint be referred to the Office of the Labour Commissioner General. You must apply for this referral between the 30th and 60th day after you first filed your complaint. You will be offered free legal representation before the labour commissioner unless you are a union member or want to be represented by your own lawyer.
The labour commissioner will hold a hearing and accept or reject your complaint. If your complaint is upheld, the commissioner can make an order of reinstatement, monetary compensation or any other decision deemed to be fair. If you're a domestic worker, the commissioner can only order your employer to pay you an amount for lost wages and benefits for a maximum of three months.