Non-Discrimination Ordinances

As of January 1, 2022, the Human Relations/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department administers and enforces the Nondiscrimination in Public Accommodations Ordinance and the Nondiscrimination in Employment Ordinance (NDOs) for the City of Winston-Salem.

Who do the Winston-Salem NDOs protect?


The Winston-Salem NDOs apply to people who belong to a protected class and who have experienced discrimination based on that protected class either

  1. As an employee or prospective employee at an employment location in Winston-Salem, or
  2. At a place of public accommodation in Winston-Salem.

What are the protected classes?


The following classes are protected by Winston-Salem’s NDOs:

Some classes may overlap with each other; for example, race may overlap with ethnicity, national origin, or protected hairstyles, and sex may overlap with sexual orientation, gender expression/identity, or pregnancy. If you have experienced discrimination based on multiple protected classes, be sure to indicate each relevant class when you submit your complaint.

Word Art -NDO

What is a place of public accommodation?


A place of public accommodation is any place, licensed or not, whose goods or services are available to the public. Such places include, but are not limited to, stores, restaurants, hotels/motels, transportation facilities, theaters, and stadiums.

Private clubs, bona fide membership organizations, and other establishments not open to the public are exempt from this ordinance, as are multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, and changing facilities.

How do I file a complaint?


Complaints must be filed within 60 days of the alleged ordinance violation.

The easiest way to file a complaint is to download this form. You may fill it out by hand or on a computer. The completed form must be printed and signed by hand. You may then either scan the form or take a photo of it with your smartphone and email it to karlynd@cityofws.org

Alternatively, you may deliver the form in person to the Human Relations/D.E.I. Department. We are located on the first floor of City Hall (101 N. Main St.) in Suite 109. If you do not have access to a printer, you may also pick up a hard copy of the complaint form at our office.

You may also mail your completed form to the following address:
Winston-Salem Human Relations/D.E.I. Department
P.O. Box 2511
Winston-Salem, NC 27102

What happens after I file a complaint?


The Human Relations/D.E.I Department will investigate the allegations made in the complaint and make a determination within 60 days whenever possible. The next steps depend on the outcome of this investigation. 

Detailed information on the complaint procedure may be found here.

The Human Relations/D.E.I. Department also refers police-based complaints to the Citizen Police Review Board. The Human Relations/D.E.I. Department does not investigate police-based complaints.

Aren't these classes already protected by existing law?


Some are, but many are not, especially in the realm of public accommodations (PA). 

NDO Protected classesFederal law: EmploymentState Law: EmploymentFederal Law: PAState Law: PA 
AgePartially Protected (Age 40+ Only)ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
ColorProtectedProtectedProtectedNot Protected
CreedPartially Protected (Religious Creed Only)Partially Protected (Religious Creed Only)
Partially Protected (Religious Creed Only)
Not Protected
DisabilityProtectedProtectedProtectedProtected
EthnicityProtectedProtectedProtectedNot Protected
Familial StatusNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
Gender Expression & Gender IdentityProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
Marital StatusNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
National OriginProtectedProtectedProtectedNot Protected
Political AffiliationNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
PregnancyProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
Protected HairstylesNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
RaceProtectedProtectedProtectedNot Protected
ReligionProtectedProtectedProtectedNot Protected
SexProtectedProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
Sexual OrientationProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected
Veteran StatusProtectedNot ProtectedNot ProtectedNot Protected


Furthermore, to receive protection under federal or state law, a person who has been discriminated against must file suit in a court of law. This is a time-consuming and costly process that is often extremely burdensome for both parties. In comparison, the City's NDO complaint process is much faster, aims to avoid the court system entirely, and is free of cost for both parties. 

Exceptions to the NDOs


Please refer to the ordinances for a full list of exceptions to the NDOs. These exceptions apply to both the public accommodations and employment NDOs. 

For legal purposes, all exceptions will be interpreted narrowly when possible.

Training Opportunities


The Human Relations/D.E.I. Department is currently developing free training materials covering the NDOs and the 17 protected classes for businesses, organizations, and individuals in Winston-Salem. If you are interested in receiving training, please fill out this form.

NDO Flyer


Use this flyer to help us spread the word! 

NDO flyer