HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

All complaints may be filed in person at the Howard County Office of Human Rights. You may also make arrangements to file through the mail.

The Office of Human Rights has jurisdiction to take complaints in the following areas: Employment, Housing, Public Accommodation, Law Enforcement, and Financing Practices if organization is in Howard County.

Right to file: Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful act in violation of the Code may file a complaint within 6 months after the alleged violation has occurred or has been discovered by the complainant.

Form of complaint: All complaints shall be filed in writing, under oath, and shall be upon a form provided by the office.

Where to file: Complaints shall be filed with the Office of Human Rights.

Content of complaint: The complaint shall state the name and address of the complainant and the respondent and other pertinent information as required by the administrator.

Amendment of complaint: The complainant may reasonably amend the complaint at any time after it is filed.

If your complaint alleges employment discrimination, the complaint may also be cross-filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if it is jurisdictional with the federal laws.

HOUSING

Filing of complaint: A person aggrieved by an alleged unlawful housing practice may file a complaint with the Office of Human Rights within one year of the practice having occurred or terminated. The complainant may reasonably and fairly amend the complaint at any time.

Form of complaint: All complaints shall be filed in writing, under oath or affirmation, and shall be on a form provided by the office. The complaint shall state the name and address of the complainant and the respondent and other pertinent information as required by the administrator.

MEDIATION

Mediation is an informal process where certified mediators in the Office of Human Rights will assist opposing parties to a discrimination complaint, in reaching a satisfactory conclusion to their differences.

Mediation is an alternative to investigation and can eliminate the costly and time-consuming preparation and submission of evidence and testimony from witnesses. The average time for mediation is approximately 2 hours, but may very depending on the case. Mediation takes place at the Office of Human Rights and is done by a certified mediator.

Settlement of an equitable nature will be attempted. If successful, all parties will sign an agreement and the case will be closed. If unsuccessful, the investigation of the case will be assigned to an Investigator for investigation.

CONCILIATION

Employment, Public Accommodation, Law Enforcement and Finance

In all areas of discrimination, except Housing, within 30 days of a finding of reasonable cause to believe that a violation of this subtitle may have occurred, the administrator shall attempt to rectify the violation by conference, conciliation and persuasion. Any conciliation agreement for the elimination of the violation shall be reduced to a legally enforceable written document signed by the complainant, respondent, and the administrator or their authorized representatives.

Settlement by conciliation: A complaint alleging unlawful housing practices may be settled by conciliation at any time in the process. During the entire period after a complaint is filed, the Human Rights administrator and, where appropriate, the Human Rights Commission, shall engage in conciliation.

Conciliation agreement made public: Each conciliation agreement shall be made public unless the complainant and respondent otherwise agree and the administrator determines the disclosure is not required to further the purposes of this subtitle.

Confidentiality: Except in a proceeding to enforce a conciliation agreement, nothing said or done in the course of conciliation may be made public or used as evidence in a subsequent proceeding under this subtitle without the written consent of the persons concerned.

Breach of conciliation agreement: If the administrator or the commission has probable cause to believe that a respondent has breached a conciliation agreement, the administrator may institute litigation to enforce the conciliation agreement.

PUBLIC HEARING

If reasonable cause is found in your case, and it cannot be resolved through conciliation, the Human Rights Commission through a three member panel will hear your complaint. Your case will be heard in a court-like setting without a jury. You and the respondent may have attorneys to advise you and should be prepared to provide witnesses and evidence. OHR may present its findings at the hearing.

If the facts support your claim, the Commission will issue an order in your favor, which may include compensatory damages and attorney¡¦s fees. If the facts fail to support your claim, your case will be dismissed. If either party disagrees with the decision, an appeal may be made to the Circuit Court of Howard County.

  • You do not have to be a Howard County resident to file but the alleged discrimination must have taken place in Howard County.
  • HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

    If you think you have been discriminated against, call or visit the Howard County Office of Human Rights to discuss your concern with our staff. We will explain our role, our process and determine if your concern is covered by our law. Complaints must be officially filed with our office within six months of the alleged act of discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodation, financing and law enforcement. In the area of housing you have one year from the date of the alleged discrimination to file your complaint. We can also refer you to other appropriate resources if your issue or problem does not come under our jurisdiction.

  • You may file a discrimination complaint if you believe you have been discriminated against in employment, housing, public accommodations law enforcement and financing – including credit – because of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, personal appearance, sexual orientation, political opinion, familial status, occupation, disability, marital status, source of income.
  • To begin the process, click on the link below:

    ONLINE INTAKE INFORMATION FORM

    The information requested on this questionnaire will help us to help you.  There is no guarantee that the information submitted will constitute a basis for filing a formal complaint.  The information provide will assist the Intake Investigator in officially writing your complaint.  If you need assistance in preparing this questionnaire, please call the Office of Human Rights at 410-313-6430.  Once completed, bring, mail, fax or email the form to us at:

    OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

    6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 239

    Columbia, MD 21046

    Fax:  410-313-6468

    ohr@howardcountymd.gov