Frequently Asked Questions

Who May File A Complaint?

Anyone who believes that he/she has experienced discrimination in Howard County in the areas of Employment, Housing, Public Accommodation, Law Enforcement or Finance and you are covered by one or more of the following 16 protected basis:

Race
Religion
Creed
Marital Status
Familial Status
Sex
Age
Sexual Orientation
Personal Appearance
Source of Income
Color
National Origin
Physical or Mental Disability
Occupation
Gender Identity

You do not need to be a resident of Howard County. 

How Do I File a Complaint?

You must file your complaint with the Office of Human Rights at 9820 Patuxent Woods Drive, Suite 237, Columbia, MD 21046. Please call OHR at 410-313-6430 for specific information. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

A complaint must be filed within 6 months of the alleged discrimination, except housing complaints must be filed within 1 year of the discriminatory behavior.

If I file with OHR, should I also file with EEOC?

No, if the complaint is cross-jurisdictional with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), OHR will cross-file the complaint with EEOC. You should not file separately with both.  Call OHR with any questions.

Do I need a lawyer to have my complaint investigated?

You do not need a lawyer to go through this process, but you may elect to obtain one at any time. OHR does not provide lawyers for parties to a complaint.

What happens after complaints are filed?

All complaints are investigated unless the Administrator finds lack of jurisdiction or no merit to the complaint. The Respondent is notified of the investigation and the investigation is initiated. Once your case is filed, you will be assigned to an investigator. You can contact your investigator at any time during the investigation in order to check on the status of your case.  Also see Case Processing & Services page.

Will OHR represent me?

OHR will not represent you. OHR will conduct an impartial investigation of complaints filed with the agency.

If I file with OHR, can my employer fire me?

There is a law which prohibits retaliation for filing a complaint or participating in a protected act (such as being a witness in a human rights investigation). However, your employer is permitted to supervise and evaluate and, yes, even terminate you for legitimate business reasons. This is a question which you should discuss with a staff member of OHR as each situation is unique.

If I have a disability, can my employer fire me?

There are laws which protect persons with disabilities. However, each situation is unique and needs to be accessed.  An investigator can discuss weither a complaint can be filed.

If I file a “Housing” complaint with OHR, can they still evict me?

That depends on the particular circumstances which are occurring. Eviction is a legal process which is governed by State laws. OHR does not handle landlord/tenant issues. OHR can take complaints that have to do with housing discrimination. Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc. has a landlord/tenant line which can answer those questions (410-243-6007). Also, the Howard County Office of Consumer Protection handles landlord/tenant questions; call 410-313-6420.

I live in Howard County, but work in another county. Can I still file my complaint in Howard County?

OHR can only take complaints which occur in Howard County regardless of where the complainant may live.

If I file with OHR, can I still go to court?

Yes, you will have the right to go to the circuit court for the county in which the alleged discrimination took place not later than two (2) years after the occurrence of the alleged discriminatory act and 45 days after filing the complaint. You may have other rights which OHR staff will explain to you when you call or come into the office.

Can OHR provide Interpreters?