Know Your Rights

The NWT Human Rights Act protects the equality human rights of everyone in the NWT.

It is against the law to discriminate against anyone in any of the following areas:

  • Employment including looking for work
  • Membership in a professional organization, workers’ association, or trade union
  • Access to public services such as health care and education, and to facilities such as stores and restaurants
  • Tenancy, which is renting a home or apartment, or leasing a business space
  • Published material such as newspapers, magazines, signs, or advertising

Grounds are characteristics or traits that people have by nature, circumstance, or choice. Many of these grounds are protected under the Act because it is your right to be treated equally no matter what characteristics you may or may not have.

The following grounds are protected under the NWT Human Rights Act:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Ethnic origin
  • Nationality
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression
  • Family status
  • Family affiliation
  • Marital status
  • Social condition
  • Religion
  • Creed
  • Political belief
  • Political association
  • Pardoned criminal conviction
  • Record suspension

Area + Ground = Complaint


You might file a complaint alleging discrimination if a landlord refuses to rent to you because you are on income assistance. In this example, the AREA would be Tenancy and the GROUND would be social condition.

You might file a complaint alleging discrimination if an employer refused to hire you because you have a mental or physical disability.  In this example, the AREA would be Employment and the GROUND would be disability.

What does it mean to discriminate?

Discrimination happens when a person experiences negative treatment or impact, intentional or not, based on one of the grounds listed in the NWT Human Rights Act.

What can you do if you believe you have been discriminated against?

  • Write down dates and times, the people involved, and what happened
  • Contact the Commission if you want information about what to do next or need help filling out a complaint form

How Do I File a Complaint?

The NWT Human Rights Commission accepts complaints of discrimination and harassment based on the areas and grounds listed in the NWT Human Rights Act. If you feel you have been discriminated against, contact us to discuss the situation. You must file your own complaint and a human rights officer can help you fill out a complaint form. It does not cost anything to file a complaint and you have two years from the last incident of discrimination to file.


Retaliation is when someone is threatened, intimidated, or treated differently because:

  • they filed a human rights complaint
  • they were a witness for a complainant
  • they helped someone with a complaint
  • they provided evidence during a hearing

The NWT Human Rights Act forbids retaliation. Anyone who experiences retaliation for participating in the complaint process, can file a complaint of retaliation with the Commission. Retaliation complaints are taken very seriously and can result in significant fines.

If you have questions or concerns about a specific situation, give us a call. We’re here for you.