Filing a complaint can be a long process. Below are some important points to remember while going through the procedure and also below is an outline of the procedure.
- Important Points
- Filing the Complaint
- Fact Finding Conference
- Extended Investigation
- Remember, a quality investigation takes time. Please be patient. Your case must be prepared so carefully that it could stand up in court if necessary.
- You are protected in your right to file a complaint! It is unlawful for anyone to harass, intimidate, or penalize you in any manner, or otherwise take action against you because you filed a complaint. If you find yourself a target of harassment, call your investigator immediately.
- Details are important. Try to remember all details and report them to your investigator. Do not try to decide for yourself what is or is not important. Leave that to the specially trained investigator.
- Keep us aware of any changes in your address. We need to be able to reach you at all times.
- You will be required to swear or affirm that the information presented is true to the best of your knowledge.
You can begin the complaint process online on the page File a Complaint Online or you can contact or meet with the Community Relations Commission in person to begin the process. A staff member with the Community Relations Commission will hear or read your complaint and decide whether it is covered by the Commission's law. To be covered by the law, the complaint must allege discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Furthermore, the complaint of discrimination must be related to an employment situation, to the services of a place of public accommodation such as a restaurant or hotel, to an educational institution, to the services of a health or welfare provider such as a clinic or social work agency, or to a housing situation.
The alleged discrimination must have taken place in Baltimore within the last 180 days.
After it is established that your complaint can be handled by the Baltimore Community Relations Commission, you will meet with a staff member who will help you with the wording of your complaint so that it is in proper legal form. The complaint will then be reviewed and approved by you.
After you have signed the complaint, it is then sent to the Director who will approve it for investigation. After your complaint has been assigned to an investigator, the first step in the investigation is the probable scheduling of a Fact-Finding Conference. A Fact-Finding Conference is not guaranteed, however. Each complaint is reviewed in great detail to determine whether a Fact-Finding Conference should be scheduled. Based on the issues and complexities of a complaint, not all complaints will result in a Fact-Finding Conference.
A Fact-Finding Conference is a meeting of all parties to the complaint: the Complainant, the Respondent company or agency, and a Community Relations Commission staff member. The purpose of the conference is to attempt to resolve the complaint as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of all concerned.
The conference begins with the reading of the complaint. The Community Relations Commission staff member will then determine if either side has anything further to add. Next, there will be an attempt to reach a settlement that is agreeable to everyone. If no agreement can be reached, the case will move to an Extended Investigation.
Complaints that are not settled through a Fact-Finding Conference go into an Extended Investigation. If necessary, the investigator will interview the persons who were responsible for the alleged discriminatory acts more thoroughly. Complainants may also offer the names of relevant witnesses for interview. Relevant documentation will also be considered.
After the investigation is completed, the investigator will decide whether the facts show that there is probable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination took place. The conclusion will be put in writing and the Complainant will have seven days to appeal if the conclusion is that discrimination did not take place.
If it is decided that probable cause does exist, the next step is called Conciliation.
Conciliation is a process in which a Community Relations Commission staff member tries to work out an agreement with the company or agency against whom a probable cause finding was found. The agreement will include stipulations that should result in ending the identified discriminatory practice and relief to the victim(s) of that practice. If Conciliation fails, the next step is a Public Hearing.
At a Public Hearing, the Hearing Examiner listens to evidence presented by both sides and decides based on the evidence presented at that hearing if there exists a probable cause that discrimination has taken place in violation of Article 4. If the Hearing Examiner determines that an unlawful practice took place, he/she will issue a decision that calls for the unlawful practice to stop immediately. The decision will include a recommended order to be issued by the Community Relations Commission as a remedy to the aggrieved Complainant. If the Respondent still refuses to cooperate, the case will be sent to court for review. If the Hearing Examiner decides that Article 4 has not been violated, the Commission's involvement in the matter will end.