If you believe you've been discriminated against in housing, employment, public accommodations or educational institutions within the District of Columbia, you can file a complaint with OHR. OHR has jurisdiction for complaints of discrimination in the private sector and District government. If mediation fails, the OHR will conduct a full investigation of the alleged discrimination. The following is a basic overview of what to expect, for a the full view of OHR's Case Processing, download the OHR Standard Operating Procedures for Complaint Processing:
Written Complaint: Submit an intake questionnaire within one year of an alleged discriminatory act occurring.*
Intake Appointment: Scheduled if OHR has jurisdiction over the case.
- Mediation & Initial Investigation: Scheduled after the intake interview.
- The DC Human Rights Act requires that all cases are mediated.
- Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program implemented by OHR that typically occurs within 45 days after the acceptance of the complaint.
- Click here for more information about Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- Full Investigation: If mediation fails, a full investigation occurs and takes up to six months or more for employment, public accommodations or educational institution complaints, and three months for housing.**
- Review & Determination: Legal team reviews file and drafts a proposed Determination. The Director of OHR approves and issues a final Letter of Determination.
- Request for Appeal: A reconsideration of the decision can be submitted to OHR within 15 days of the Determination.
* DC government employees must consult an EEO counselor within 180 calendar days of the discriminatory act. The counselor will attempt informally to resolve the complaint, but if those efforts fail, the counselor will issue an “exit letter.” The employee must submit the intake questionnaire to OHR within 15 days of the date of the exit letter.
**Complaints of Housing Discrimination must be investigated within 100 days of its formal filing date. If it is impractical to complete the investigation within 100 days, OHR will notify both parties of the reason(s) for the delay.
*** If a case is cross-filed with the EEOC, Complainant may submit a request for substantial weight review to the EEOC within 15 days of the letter of determination. For any case, Complainant may submit a petition for review to the Superior Court.
The OHR also handles the complaints of residents that cannot access DC government services in their own languages (Language Access).
Discriminatory Acts Defined
It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice in Employment, Housing, Education and Public Accommodations or Government Services to do any of the following acts, wholly or partially for a discriminatory reason based upon the actual or perceived: age, color, credit information, disability, family responsibilities, familial status, gender identity and expression, genetic information, homeless status, marital status, matriculation, national origin, personal appearance, place of residence or business, political affiliation, race, religion, sealed eviction record, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, status as a victim or family, remember of a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking (DVSOS), and status as a victim of an intrafamily offense.
To deny, restrict, or to abridge or condition the use of, or access to, any of its facilities, services, programs, or benefits of any program or activity to any person otherwise qualified
To make or use a written or oral inquiry, or form of application for admission, that elicits or attempts to elicit information, or to make or keep a record, concerning the race, color, religion, or national origin of an applicant for admission, except as permitted by regulations of the Office
- To fail or refuse to hire, or to discharge, any individual; or otherwise to discriminate against any individual, with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, including promotion
- To limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities, or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee
- To interrupt or terminate, or refuse or fail to initiate or conduct any transaction in real property; or to require different terms for such transaction; or to represent falsely that an interest in real property is not available for transaction
- To include in the terms or conditions of a transaction in real property, any clause, condition or restriction; refusal to appraise a property, refuse to lend money, guarantee a loan, purchase a loan
- To refuse or restrict facilities, services, repairs or improvements for a tenant or lessee
- To make, print, or publish, any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to a transaction, which notice, statement, or advertisement unlawfully indicates or attempts unlawfully to indicate any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on a protected category
- To refuse to make reasonable accommodations or modifications in rules, policies, practices, or services, when these accommodations may be necessary to afford any person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling; because of their disability
Public Accommodations or Government Services
- To deny, directly or indirectly, any person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodations
- To print, circulate, post, or mail, or otherwise cause, directly or indirectly, to be published a statement, advertisement, or sign which indicates services will be unlawfully refused, withheld from or denied an individual; or that an individual’s patronage of, or presence at, a place of public accommodation is objectionable, unwelcome, unacceptable, or undesirable because of the person's protected category
- A health benefit plan or health insurer shall not establish rules for the eligibility, new or continued, or any individual or adjust premium or contribution amounts for an individual on the basis of genetic information concerning the individual or family member of the individual