Decisions on NWT Human Rights complaints are made by the Human Rights Adjudication Panel. A summary of each decision is listed below. Click on the title to read the entire decision. For information about upcoming hearings or the Panel’s rules and regulations, visit the Adjudication Panel’s website.

 2016

A.B. v Yellowknife (City), 2016 (No.1)

A.B. filed a human rights complaint against the City of Yellowknife alleging that the City failed to accommodate her based on her family status forcing her to resign her position. A.B requested an accommodation to cover a period of 8-9 weeks so that she could care for her child who has a disability. The City argued that its proposed alternate schedules met their duty to accommodate and that A.B.resigned because she didn’t like the accommodation proposed.

The adjudicator determined that the City failed to be flexible and became entrenched in its refusal to accommodate her needs.

A.B. v Yellowknife (City), 2016 (No.2)

This decision was issued to determine the remedy in this case. The adjudicator ordered The City of Yellowknife to refrain from discriminating based on family status in the future and to award A.B. a total of $55,342.54 as compensation:  $35,213.47 for lost income and benefits; $129.07 for hearing expenses; $15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect; and $5,000 in exemplary damages.

The City of Yellowknife has appealed the original decision.

Portman v Northwest Territories (Department of Justice), 2016

APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION

Ms. Portman filed a human rights complaint against Legal Aid alleging that denying her coverage discriminates against her as a person with a disability by negatively and adversely affecting her access to the NWT human rights process. The Director of the NWT Human Rights Commission dismissed her complaint prior to it reaching a tribunal. Ms. Portman appealed the Director’s decision.

The adjudicator overturned the Director’s decision stating it “…did not address the issue of adverse effect discrimination or the systemic nature of the alleged complaint, failed to identify the proper “service” in issue, and did not consider whether there was justification for the alleged discrimination”.
The adjudicator then made a decision about whether or not Legal Aid discriminated against Ms. Portman by refusing to provide her with its services.

After overturning the Director’s decision, the adjudicator looked to the case to determine whether Legal Aid discriminated against Ms. Portman on the basis of her disability and whether the denial of Legal Aid is a systemic issue. The adjudicator ruled that Legal Aid’s policy to refuse funding for human rights complaints had an adverse impact on her access to the human rights complaint process. He also stated a policy which denies funding for human rights complaints can result in discrimination against persons with certain disabilities.

The ruling in this case ordered the GNWT to award Ms. Portman $10,000 for injury to dignity, reconsider Ms. Portman’s application for legal aid in light of her disability and accommodate her to the point of undue hardship, discontinue the practice of refusing all human rights complaints without considering the adverse impact on clients with certain disabilities and accommodate them to the point of undue hardship.

This decision has been appealed.

Portman v Yellowknife (City), 2016 (No.1)

Ms. Portman filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission in 2014 alleging the City of Yellowknife discriminated against her based on her disability and social condition. She argued that the disabled person’s transit system (DTS) cost more than the regular city transit; she argued as well the City failed to make physical alterations to the Ruth Inch Swimming Pool to accommodate her physical disability.

The adjudicator found the City had discriminated against Ms. Portman in both instances and ordered the City to complete specific renovations to the pool to make it more accessible to people with disabilities, to refrain from using a fee structure for their transportation system that discriminated against people with disabilities, and to compensate Ms. Portman in the sum of $8,518.50:  $1018.50 being the difference in the cost of bus fare and $7500 for injury to dignity.

Portman v Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, 2016

In November 2013, Elizabeth Portman filed a complaint with the NWT Human Rights Commission alleging the Legislative Assembly discriminated against her by not addressing physical issues which limited her access to the building. The adjudicator found that the Legislative Assembly did not recognize the importance of the issues raised by Ms. Portman and their failure to address her concerns resulted in discrimination. The Legislative Assembly was ordered to pay Ms. Portman $10,000 for injury to dignity.

Atkins v North American Tungsten Corp., 2016 

Mr. Atkins filed a complaint with the NWT Human Rights Commission alleging his employer, North American Tungsten, discriminated against him based on his disability by refusing to let him return to work after a medical emergency. North American Tungsten provided no response and did not appear at the hearing. The adjudicator ordered North American Tungsten to allow Mr. Atkins to return to work and to compensate him for his lost wages.
(Decision on amount owed for lost wages to follow).

Portman v Yellowknife (City), 2017 (No. 2)

A second decision in this matter was issued in January of 2017 as a result of the decision handed down in September 2016. Ms. Portman argued that the City of Yellowknife continued to charge users of the Disabled Transit System (DTS) higher fares for single trips and punch passes. She claimed that the difference in fares continued to be discriminatory and went against the order of the first decision. She asked that the City be ordered to reimburse all of the users who had been paying higher fares between September 22, 2016 and January 2, 2017.

The Panel stated that section 62(3)(a)(viii) of the Human Rights Act gives it the authority to address contraventions of the Act to any person affected, even if they had not been a party to the original complaint or participated in the hearing. The Panel ordered the City of Yellowknife to compensate all users affected by the discriminatory fares between September 22, 2016 and January 2, 2017.

This decision has been appealed.

McMahon v Workers Safety and Compensation Commission, 2017

Mr. McMahon filed a complaint with the NWT Human Rights Commission in October of 2013. The Commission required Mr. McMahon to amend his complaint and the form was sent to him in November of 2015. The amended complaint alleges that the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (“WSCC”) discriminated against him by refusing to make a full pension conversion due to the level of his impairment. The respondent filed an application to dismiss the complaint before hearing arguing Mr. McMahon’s lack of participation had resulted in an unreasonable delay. Mr. McMahon failed to provide a copy of his amended complaint form, failed to attend a number of pre-hearing conferences, and failed to provide reasons for his absences. The adjudicator agreed that Mr. McMahon’s lack of participation in the adjudication of his complaint delayed the process. The complaint against the WSCC was dismissed.

2015

Kahak v Liquor Shop
Ms. Kahak alleged that the Liquor Shop refused her service in March of 2014 because of her race or ethnicity. The Adjudicator found no evidence the refusal to serve was related to the Complainant’s ethnic or racial background and the complaint was dismissed.

Lodovici v WAM
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
Mr. Lodovici appealed the Director’s decision to dismiss his complaint of discrimination against WAM Development Corporation (WAM). Mr. Lodovici  filed a human rights complaint in November 2006 alleging that WAM terminated his lease because of his association with individuals identified by race, ancestry and social condition. The Director noted that WAM had attempted to accommodate Mr. Lodovici’s business within their new development plan but there was no evidence to show that they were trying to get rid of his business. The Director’s decision was upheld and the appeal was dismissed.

Smith v UNW
RULING ON PRELIMINARY APPLICATION
This decision is a ruling on Mr. Norman Smith’s preliminary application to have witnesses not living close to Yellowknife testify at the hearing either by video-conference or telephone. Section 42 of the NWT Human Rights Act states that hearings may occur by way of teleconference or video-conference and Sections 43 and 52 makes it clear that the adjudicator will determine the appropriate mode of the hearing to facilitate a just and timely resolution. Mr. Smith’s application was accepted.

Kahak v Liquor Shop
RULING ON PRELIMINARY APPLICATION
This decision is a ruling on the Liquor Shop’s preliminary application to have the complaint dismissed without a hearing based on a number of factors including the fact that there was an investigation completed by the NWT Liquor Commission; and the respondent felt the complaint had no merit. Counsel for the Human Rights Commission noted that the Liquor Commission Does not have jurisdiction to deal with Human Rights Complaints nor did it appear that the Liquor Commission held any type of hearing. The Human Rights Act states that a complaint can only be dismissed on its merits after a hearing. The Liquor Shop’s Application to have the complaint dismissed was dismissed.

AB v City of Yellowknife
RULING ON PRELIMINARY APPLICATION
This decision is a ruling on the City of Yellowknife’s application to have the adjudicator recuse himself because of a perceived bias. The City argued that an adjudicator who participated with parties in mediation should not preside over the hearing. The adjudicator found that the City did not provide any evidence of impropriety or impartiality. The Adjudicator further noted that neither party had an issue with him continuing as pre-hearing adjudicator nor had he assumed the role of mediator. The City’s application for recusal was dismissed.

2014

A.B. vs. The City of Yellowknife, 2014
A.B. filed a human rights complaint with the NWT Human Rights Commission in July of 2012 alleging the City of Yellowknife discriminated against her by refusing to accommodate her based on her family status and a disability. This appeal concerns the decision of the Director to dismiss the portion of the appellant’s complaint of discrimination based on disability.

The consistent information from both parties indicates that A.B. does not have a disability and that this case is fundamentally a complaint of discrimination based on family status. For these reasons, the appeal was denied and Director’s decision to dismiss the portion of the complaint based on disability was upheld.

Turner v. BDIC and GNWT October 2014
RULING ON PRELIMINARY APPLICATION
This is a preliminary application regarding an appeal of the Director of Human Rights decision to dismiss a complaint of discrimination based on disability.  The appellant’s preliminary application seeks an order for the production of documents, or alternatively, an order barring the respondents from using certain material in future proceedings.

In order to make a ruling on the validity of the order, the appeal of the Director’s decision must be determined first. Because Mr. Turner’s application was brought before its time, his application was denied.

Portman v. Union of Northern Workers (UNW), 2014
The NWT Human Rights Adjudication Panel found that that the Union of Northern Workers discriminated against the complainant by refusing to move a membership meeting to an accessible premise so that she could participate.  The complainant is a member of the UNW and has a medical condition that makes it difficult for her to go up and down stairs.  The Panel ordered the UNW to pay the complainant $10,000 as compensation for injury to her dignity.  It also ordered the UNW to provide access to services at a location that meets or exceeds the accessibility requirements of the current National Building Code.

Portman v. Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Sunlife Assurance (No. 3), 2014
RULING ON PRELIMINARY APPLICATION FOR COUNSEL
Ms. Portman, alleges Sun Life and the Government of the Northwest Territories (“GNWT”) discriminated against her on the basis of disability because their policy did not extend benefits to individuals suffering from disability when they started employment. A second complaint alleges GNWT did not accommodate her return to work. Sun Life is a not a party to this complaint.

Ms Portman says she cannot properly pursue either complaint because both the law and evidence in both is complex. She requested that she be provided counsel to represent her. The panel dismissed the application because the Human Rights Act does not authorize the adjudication panel to appoint counsel.

Zalenchuk v. North of Sixty Camps Ltd., 2014
Mr. Mike Zalenchuk filed a human rights complaint in July 2011, alleging North of Sixty Camps Ltd. refused to employ him and/or refused to continue to employ him due to his age. Mr Zalenchuck was 75 at the time of the alleged discrimination. The Panel found there was no evidence of discrimination and the case was dismissed.

2013

Landrie v. Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), 2013†
Ms. Gabrielle Landrie filed a human rights complaint in January 2012 alleging the Government of the Northwest Territories and Minister J. Michael Miltenberger denied her access to facilities customarily available to the public because she is transgender.

The Panel found that while the complainant was denied access to school facilities, the denial was not related to her gender identity and her complaint was dismissed.

Tracy Thorson v. Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), 2013
In August 2009, Ms. Thorson filed a human rights complaint alleging that the GNWT terminated her employment knowing she had a disability that prevented her from performing her job duties and functions and without accommodating her needs and circumstances. The Panel found the GNWT discriminated against M0s. Thorson, contrary to sections 5(1) and 7(1)(a) of the NWT Human Rights Act, by refusing to continue to employ her without affording her reasonable accommodation as required by section 7(4) of the Act.

Battaglia v. Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, 2013
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
This case is an appeal of Director’s decision to dismiss the complaint Mr. Craig Battaglia filed in September 2009 alleging the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority discriminated against him on the bases of religion, family affiliation, political belief and political association. Mr. Battaglia alleged that the discriminatory conduct resulted in the termination of his employment. The Adjudication Panel affirmed the Director’s decision to dismiss the complaint.

Portman v. Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (No. 1), 2013
RULING ON ACCESS TO PUBLIC TO PRE-HEARING CONFERENCES
This decision is a ruling on public access to pre-hearing conferences and preliminary applications. Ms. Elizabeth Portman requested all steps taken on these complaints be held in public including pre-hearing conferences, preliminary applications and the hearings.

The Panel noted that pre-hearing conferences are different from hearings because they deal with issues that must be resolved before the hearing. The Panel ruled that pre-hearing conferences would not be open to the public.

Portman v. Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (No. 2), 2013
RULING ON PRELIMINATRY APPLICATION TO JOIN COMPLAINTS
This decision is a ruling on Ms. Elizabeth Portman’s preliminary applications to join two of her complaints, one against the Government of the Northwest Territories and Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, and a second against the Government of the Northwest Territories. Both complaints allege discrimination in the area of employment and public services on the basis of disability.

Ms. Portman’s application to join the complaints was denied.
The GNWT’s request to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction because the complaints should have been the subject of a grievance was dismissed.
The Panel deferred the GNWT’s application to dismiss because the complaints fall under the federal jurisdiction and will be decided at hearing.

2012

Juanita Robinson v. Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), 2012
In May 2006, Ms. Robinson filed a human rights complaint alleging that the GNWT discriminated against her by paying her at a rate less than the rate of pay given to male employees who performed the same or substantially similar work. Ms. Robinson also alleged that the GNWT retaliated after she filed the complaint by making changes to her job description, changing her role and scaling down her operational budget. The Panel found there was insufficient evidence to support Ms. Robinson allegations that she suffered any disadvantage or was denied opportunities in her employment because of her gender. The Panel also dismissed her retaliation complaint.

William Dalton v. Hay River Health & Social Services Authority (HRHSSA), 2012
In August 2012, the Panel dismissed Mr. Dalton’s appeal of the Director’s decision to dismiss his complaint against HRHSSA under section 44(1)(d) of the NWT Human Rights Act. This section allows the Director to dismiss a complaint if it has been appropriately dealt with in another proceeding. In addition to a human rights complaint, Mr. Dalton had filed grievances that were heard by a grievance arbitrator. The Panel found that the grievance arbitration had jurisdiction to apply human rights legislation; it dealt with the same issues as those in the human rights complaint; and Mr. Dalton had the opportunity to meet the case against him.

2010

Robertson & Anthony v. Goertzen, 2010
The complainants, Mr. Robertson and Mr. Anthony, placed an ad seeking rental accommodation in Yellowknife in May 2009. The two men, who are gay and partners, arranged to rent the main floor of a house owned by William Goertzen and they paid a deposit of $1,125. Two days later, Mr. Goertzen learned that the men were gay. Mr. Goertzen refused to rent to them because he is a Christian who believes that God would punish him if he rented a part of his house to homosexuals. The complainants had to depend on the assistance of friends while they found another place to live. They also had to pay a higher rent and to go to the Residential Tenancies Office to obtain some compensation and the return of their deposit from Mr. Goertzen.

In its decision dated September 5, 2010, the Panel found that Mr. Goertzen discriminated against the complainants by refusing to rent to them because of their sexual orientation. Mr. Goertzen’s religious beliefs did not provide a justification for denying the rights of others. The adjudicator ordered Mr. Goertzen to pay each complainant $5,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect, $1,500 for punitive damages and $400.00 for lost wages. The adjudicator also ordered Mr. Goertzen to refrain from committing the same or any similar type of discrimination in the future.

2009

McSwain v. Government of the Northwest Territories, 2009
The Adjudication Panel upheld Jennifer McSwain’s complaint that she was discriminated against because of her marital status by the GNWT’s Department of Justice.

The South Mackenzie Correctional Centre (SMCC) operates a snow removal service for persons with disabilities and the elderly in Hay River. SMCC inmates, under the supervision of corrections officers carry out the snow removal. Ms. McSwain was denied this service because her spouse is a corrections officer. The Panel concluded that the SMCC could accommodate Ms. McSwain without undue hardship and therefore discriminated against her on the basis of her marital status. The Panel deferred the decision on remedies.

In its decision on remedies dated June 15, 2009, the Panel ordered the GNWT to compensate Ms. McSwain $4,000.00 for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect. The adjudicator also ordered the GNWT to cease the discrimination.

Weber v. Budget Rent-a-Car and AVIS Budget Rental Group Inc., 2009
On July 8, 2009, the Panel dismissed Ms. Weber’s complaint because there was no longer a cause of action. Specifically, Ms. Weber failed to pursue the final steps in settling the complaint and the respondents had complied with the terms of settlement.

Kwong v. Government of the Northwest Territories, 2009
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
The Adjudication Panel reversed the Director’s decision to dismiss the complaint for not being filed within the required two year time limit. The Panel accepted new evidence from Mr. Kwong which resulted in him not filing within the time limit. The Panel allowed Mr. Kwong’s request to extend the time limit for filing his complaint.

2008

Huskey v. Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., 2008
RULING ON PRELIMINATRY APPLICATIONS
This is a preliminary decision on the location of a hearing. The adjudicator decided that the hearing would be held in the complainant’s home community of Behchoko.

Sherman v. Mbotloxo Investments Ltd. operating as Boston Pizza, 2008
The Panel found that Ms. Sherman was harassed because of her sex and disability while employed at Boston Pizza. The Panel found that she was subjected to sexually inappropriate conduct from other staff and music in the workplace that degraded women, and that she received little help from management to stop it. The Panel also found that Ms. Sherman was harassed because of her disability when staff repeatedly hid a stool that she used for assistance with her disability. The Panel ordered Boston Pizza to pay Ms. Sherman $1000 for the injury to her dignity, and $2500 for exemplary or punitive damages.

Deranger v.994401 NWT Ltd. operating as The Raven’s Pub, 2008*
The Panel dismissed Mr. Deranger’s complaint of discrimination on the basis of his race and ancestry when he was refused access to The Raven Pub. The Panel found that Mr. Deranger did not prove that he was denied access to the pub because he is an Aboriginal person.

Savage v. 984239 NWT Limited operating as Polar Tech et al, 2008
The Panel found that Ms. Savage was sexually harassed in the workplace. The sexual harassment resulted in negative job-related consequences for Ms. Savage. The Panel found that Polar Tech was responsible for creating a poisoned work environment for female employees. The Panel ordered Polar Tech to pay the complainant $7,500 for exemplary and punitive damages and $25,670.33 for lost wages, injury to her dignity, and for counseling sessions.

Lawson v. 994486 NWT Limited operating as Le Frolic Bistro Bar, 2008
The Panel found that Le Frolic Bistro Bar discriminated against Ms. Lawson because of her disability. She was forced to leave Le Frolic with her special services dog after being told that dogs were not allowed in the bar. The Panel found that Le Frolic’s conduct violated the Human Rights Act, but did not give Ms. Lawson monetary compensation.

Burles v. City Cab (1993) Ltd., 2008
The Panel found that City Cab discriminated against Mr. Burles, who uses a wheelchair, when it required him to pay a surcharge in addition to the regular taxi fare for using a handi-van. The Panel ordered City Cab to provide it with a copy of its policy cancelling the surcharge against customers who have disabilities, to stop charging the surcharge, and to pay Mr. Burles $60.00 for reimbursement of the surcharges and $1500 for injury to his dignity and self-respect.

Nelner v. Government of the Northwest Territories, 2008
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
The Adjudication Panel upheld the Director’s decision to dismiss Mr. Nelner’s complaint because the complaint was not filed within the two year required time limit. Mr. Nelner alleges in his complaint that he was discriminated against by his employer because of his race. The Panel found that the Director’s decision to dismiss the complaint was reasonable and the existence of a grievance arbitration had no impact on the two year time limit.

2007

Merko v. Tundra Transfer Ltd, July 5, 2007
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
The Panel upheld the Director’s decision to dismiss a complaint alleging discrimination in employment.

Belyea v. Government of the Northwest Territories, 2007
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
This complaint deals with the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Affirmative Action Policy. The GNWT Affirmative Action Policy was approved under the Fair Practices Act. Section 67 of the NWT Human Rights Act states that all programs that were approved under the Fair Practices Act are considered to be special programs for the purposes of the NWT Human Rights Act. The Director dismissed a complaint alleging discrimination as a result of the Affirmative Action Priority Two category of hiring. The Adjudication Panel upheld the dismissal and found that complaints against the Affirmative Action policy are non-jurisdictional, in other words, fall outside the scope of the Human Rights Act.

Palchuk v. DeBeers Canada and DeBeers Corporate Group, 2007
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
The Adjudication Panel upheld the Director’s decision to dismiss a complaint alleging discrimination in employment.

Mercer v. Worker’s Compensation of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, 2007
The Commission became a party to the hearing into Mercer v. Workers’ Compensation Board of the NWT and Nunavut in 2006. The hearing was held in January 2007 and the decision was rendered on August 13, 2007. The decision supported the Commission’s arguments. Specifically, Mr. Mercer’s situation of being a seasonal worker from a region of Canada that suffers high unemployment are circumstances that fall under the ground of “social condition” in the Act. The decision also confirmed that the WCB’s policy of excluding Employment Insurance as income for the purposes of calculating benefits had the effect of discriminating against seasonal workers on the basis of social condition. The decision set a national legal precedent in an area of human rights law that is new and evolving. The decision has been appealed to the NWT Supreme Court.

Niziol v. Aurora College, 2007
APPEAL OF DIRECTOR’S DECISION
The Director dismissed a complaint alleging discrimination against Aurora College. The complainant appealed the dismissal to the Adjudication Panel. The Adjudicator overturned the Director’s decision and ordered further investigation. The Adjudicator also provided direction on the appropriate threshold for the Director’s decision-making function. Aurora College appealed the decision to the NWT Supreme Court. The Court upheld the Adjudicator’s decision and clarified the threshold for the Director’s decision-making function. In considering whether to refer a complaint to a hearing, or to dismiss a complaint, the Director is expected to consider: [58] … all of the circumstances of a case must be considered; that there need only be a reasonable basis in the evidence to proceed to a hearing; that the enquiry must be as to whether there is any (reasonable) evidence; that regardless of the respondent’s evidence, if the evidentiary burden is discharged a hearing is warranted. [59] … there must be a reasonable basis in the evidence to proceed to a hearing. Since an adjudication panel at a hearing could accept a complainant’s version of events rather than a respondent’s, where there is contradictory evidence, the person screening the complaint should consider whether, if the complainant’s version is accepted, the complaint could be found to have merit. If so, a hearing will likely be warranted even though the respondent may be able to point to contrary evidence.

Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. v Thérèse Boullard, Director of Human Rights and Peter Huskey, 2007
The Director referred a complaint filed against Diavik Diamond Mines to the Adjudication Panel for a hearing. Diavik Diamond Mines sought judicial review of that decision. The NWT Supreme Court upheld the Director’s decision and further clarified the Director’s decision-making function. [43] … Is there evidence which, if believed, could substantiate the complaint? … It is simply a matter of determining whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a hearing.

If you are looking for a particular federal, territorial, or provincial decision, contact the Human Rights Commission and/or Tribunal of that jurisdiction.  Links to the websites of other Commissions and Tribunals are listed on our human rights links page.