How To File a Complaint, Case Processing & Services

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination means acting or failing to act or unduly delaying any action regarding any person because of race, sex, creed, religion, national origin, color, age, occupation, personal appearance, political opinion, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, familial status, source of income or gender identity in such a way that such persons are adversely affected in housing, employment, financing, law enforcement, or public accommodations.

Filing a Complaint 

To begin the process, you must contact the Office of Human Rights and Equity by:
  1. Telephone – (410) 313-6430; or
  2. Email at ohr@howardcountymd.gov; or 
  3. Call to schedule an appointment; or 
  4. Complete an online inquiry form found on OHR’s website. 
*None of the above actions are considered the filing of a formal complaint. 

Who Can File?

Any person can file a Complaint if the incident of alleged discrimination occurred in Howard County.  The Complaint must be filed within 6 months (Employment, Public Accommodation, Finance and Law Enforcement) or within 1 year (Housing) of the alleged discrimination. In the case of Employment discrimination, the employer must have 5 or more employees.

Case Processing Timeframe

OHRE will complete its investigation within 180 days (Employment, Public Accommodation, Finance and Law Enforcement) or within 100 days (Housing).  These deadlines may be extended due to extenuating circumstances.

End of Investigation

Based on the evidence, OHRE will issue a finding of No Reasonable Cause (NRC) or Reasonable Cause (RC) to believe that the Complainant experienced discrimination.  

Mediation 

Mediation is a method of resolving the dispute without the time and expense of an investigation.  OHRE will ask if you would like to mediate the matter with a trained mediator at OHR.  Both parties must agree to mediate. 

Conciliation

If OHRE issued a Reasonable Cause finding, the Administrator will contact the parties to attempt to arrange a settlement before it is sent to the Human Rights Commission for a public hearing. 

Appeal Proces