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Office of Human Rights
 

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DC Commission on Human Rights

The Hearing Unit houses both the DC Commission on Human Rights which adjudicates private sector cases and Independent Hearing Examiners who adjudicate public sector cases.  Although the hearing process is the same, some of the forms are different.  Therefore, make sure you access the correct for which will indicate “Public Sector” or “Private Sector.”  If there is no such designation, the form is available for both private and public sector cases.
 

DC Commission on Human Rights

The DC Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) is an agency within the Office of Human Rights (“OHR”) that serves as an impartial forum for the hearing and deciding of cases of unlawful discrimination in employment, real estate transactions, public accommodations, or educational institutions under the D.C. Human Rights Act and the Fair Criminal Records Screening Act (“FCRSA”). The Commission also provides an appeals process to applicants who were found ineligible for employment under the Criminal Background Checks for the Protection of Children Act. Although the Commission is within OHR, the Commission acts independent of OHR  to adjudicate cases in an impartial manner.  The rules for private sector hearings can be found at 4 DCMR § 400 and § 200.

The Commission is comprised of up to 15 Commissioners, who are nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Each Commissioner is appointed to a three-year term without compensation. The Commission holds Bi-Monthly meetings on second Wednesdays of January, March, May, July, September and November, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. Information about the meetings are posted and located on the OHR website, in the DC Register, and in the Open Meetings website’s calendar.

 

The Adjudication Process

Commission Private Sector Cases

After a complaint is filed with OHR, and after review and investigation,i f OHR finds “probable cause” that discrimination occurred, the case is then referred to the Commission to conduct an evidentiary hearing in a “trial-type” setting  before an administrative law judge.

The Commission’s hearing process operates under the DC Administrative Procedure Act as well as the Commission’s Rules of Procedure for Contested Cases, 4 DCMR § 400 et seq. Hearings are de novo, or “from the beginning,” and parties have access to full discovery and motion practice, the opportunity to submit documentary evidence, and may present testimony by witnesses who are subject to cross-examination. All hearings are public and recorded.

Once an administrative law judge completes the hearing, a proposed decision with findings of fact and conclusions of law is issued to the parties who have 15 days to submit written exceptions to the proposed decision.  4 DCMR § 430.1(d).  After the written exceptions filed by the parties are addressed, the administrative law judge submits the entire record to a tribunal comprised of three Commissioners assigned to the case. The tribunal then affirms, modifies or rejects the Administrative Law Judge’s proposed decision, and a final decision is issued accordingly.  The parties may seek reconsideration of the Commission’s final decision within 15 days.  4 DCMR § 431.1.  The Final Decision is appealable to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.  See D.C. Code § 2-1403.14; § 2-510; and 4 DCMR § 431.5.

If discrimination is found, the Commission may award a successful complainant injunctive relief, back and front pay, compensatory damages, and/or attorney’s fees. The Commission is also authorized to furnish a civil penalty on a discriminating respondent which is paid to the District government. Final decisions of the Commission may be appealed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Contact Information (Private Sector Cases)

Government of the District of Columbia
Marion S. Barry, Jr. Building
441 4th Street, NW Suite 290N
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 727-0656
 

OHR Public Sector Cases

Once an Administrative Law Judge completes the hearing, a proposed decision with findings of fact and conclusions of law is issued to the parties and the Director.  The parties have 20 calendar days to submit substitute proposed findings to the Director.  4 DCMR § 119.3.  After substitute findings are submitted, the Director will issue a Final Decision in the case that affirms, modifies or rejects the Administrative Law Judge’s proposed decision.  Any party may seek reconsideration of the Director’s final decision within 15 days.  4 DCMR § 120.4. The Director’s decision is appealable to the District of Columbia Superior Court as a Final Agency Action.  See 4 DCMR § 121.4.

If discrimination is found, the Director may award a successful complainant remedial actions such as retroactive promotion, backpay, cancellation of unwarranted personnel actions, and expungement of unwarranted disciplinary records.  Please note that neither compensatory damages, putative damages or attorney’s fees are available remedies in public sector cases. Select from the following for more information:

Contact Information (Public Sector Cases)

Government of the District of Columbia
Marion S. Barry, Jr. Building
441 4th Street, NW Suite 290N
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 727-0656
 
 

Select from the following for more information:

 


The Annual Human Rights Awards Ceremony 

The Commission on Human Rights in conjunction with the Office of Human Rights holds an annual ceremony in December where we acknowledge the recipients of our annual Human Rights Awards. For more information on the awards, past ceremony themes and award recipients, please click here.