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Who are Human Rights Commissioners?

Commissioners have experience and an interest in and sensitivity to human rights.   They know about the concerns of vulnerable or marginalized groups, public policy, social values, and concepts of fairness, justice and public service.

The Lieutenant-Governor in Council appoints Commissioners for a 5 year term. One member is designated as Chair.

Find out more information about our Commissioners here.


What do Human Rights Commissioners do?

Human Rights Commissioners promote an understanding of, acceptance of and compliance with the Human Rights Act. They also attend regular meetings and make decisions about complaints, special programs and the strategic direction of the Human Rights Commission.

They act more like a volunteer board of directors and do not work in the Human Rights Commission’s office.


What is the test used to refer a complaint to a hearing? 

Human Rights Commissioners shall refer a complaint to a hearing in the following circumstances:

  • The complaint has not been dismissed or deferred by the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission;
  • There is sufficient evidence to proceed; and
  • The parties are unable to settle the complaint.


What is their role when reviewing complaints?

Human Rights Commissioners review complaints after an investigation is complete. The Commissioners decide if there is “sufficient evidence” to send a complaint to a hearing.  It is a screening function only.

Human Rights Commissioners do not make findings of discrimination or harassment. That is the job of an Adjudicator at a human rights hearing.


What does “sufficient evidence” mean?

Human Rights Commissioners first review all the available evidence.  They use their experience, common sense and knowledge of human rights to decide if there is “sufficient evidence” to send a complaint to a hearing.

A complaint can be dismissed if there is not enough evidence to support the allegations or there is a non-discriminatory reason for the Respondent’s conduct.


What can the Human Rights Commissioners decide to do?

The Commissioners can either decide to:

  • dismiss the complaint if there is not enough evidence to support the allegations OR
  • refer the complaint to commission-directed mediation and/or to a human rights hearing


How long will it take for the Human Rights Commissioners to make a decision?

Human Rights Commissioners meet and review complaints 4-5 times a years. If there is an urgent matter, they can hold meetings by conference call to speed up complaints.


How will I know what the Human Rights Commissioners decided?

The Human Rights Commission will send a letter explaining the Commissioner’s decision.


What do I do if I disagree with the Commissioners decision to dismiss a complaint?

If a complaint is dismissed, a Complainant can seek judicial review of the decision in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, General Division.