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Department of Justice and OHR to Cooperate on Discrimination Cases

Thursday, October 2, 2014
Agreement Has DOJ Transferring Some National Origin Cases to OHR

CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Policy and Communications – 202.481.3773; [email protected]

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –The DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) and United States Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) have signed a memorandum of understanding providing for cooperation between the two agencies on the handling of discrimination cases based on citizenship status and national origin, including in the employment eligibility verification process. The agreement allows for the transfer of cases when one agency has jurisdiction but the other does not, ensuring cases are investigated by the proper agency and that employees’ discrimination filings are accepted even if they file with the wrong agency.

“Both OHR and the Department of Justice want to ensure that incidents of discrimination based on national origin and citizenship status are fully investigated whenever possible,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “Because OHR has jurisdiction in areas where the Department of Justice does not, and vice versa, this agreement ensures we are working together to transfer cases to the correct agency.”

Currently, OSC lacks jurisdiction over national origin discrimination cases against employers with less than four employees and more than 14 employees, whereas OHR has jurisdiction over national origin discrimination cases regardless of employer size. However, OSC has jurisdiction over citizenship status discrimination in employment and over discrimination in the Form I-9 and E-Verify processes, which OHR does not. The agreement institutionalizes the transfer of cases when filed with one agency where the other agency has jurisdiction, and initiates coordinated investigations when both national origin and citizenship status discrimination are alleged.

Complaints of employment discrimination based on national origin or other protected categories in the District can be submitted to OHR online at ohr.dc.gov/complaints. Charge forms for filing an allegation of discrimination with OSC can be found at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/htm/charge.php. Complaints with OHR must be filed within one year of the incident, and complaints with OSC within 180 days of the incident.

Learn more about OHR and its complaint process at ohr.dc.gov/complaints, and about all 19 protected traits covered under the DC Human Rights Act at ohr.dc.gov/protectedtraits.

For more information about federal protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign-up for  a free webinar at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/webinars.php; email [email protected]; or visit OSC’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc.

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About the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights

The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) was established to eradicate discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect human rights for persons who live in or visit the District of Columbia. The agency enforces local and federal human rights laws, including the DC Human Rights Act, by providing a legal process to those who believe they have been discriminated against. OHR also proactively enforces human rights in the District through Director’s Inquiries, which allow it to identify and investigate practices and policies that may be discriminatory.