FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 10, 2012
CONTACT: Elliot Imse (OHR) 202.481.3773; [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) releases its Highlights of 2012 report today after a fiscal year marked by improvements in processing cases and innovative efforts to eradicate discrimination in the District. The report reveals disability and race being among the most commonly cited protected traits in discrimination cases filed with OHR, and that the majority of cases are employment-related. The report also draws attention to agency success in mediating case settlements and its increased outreach and awareness campaigns.
“This year we worked tirelessly to expand our outreach efforts in hopes of lessening incidents of discrimination faced by District residents and visitors, and by encouraging people to report alleged illegal behavior,” says Director Gustavo Velasquez in the report. “Simultaneously, we’ve increased efficiency in processing cases within our Office, reducing the amount of time it takes to render decisions. Expect these trends to continue in 2013, as our Office continues to improve with a goal of ensuring all people can fully enjoy the inclusive protections DC offers.”
Over 80 percent of OHR’s 341 cases alleged employment discrimination, with disability, race, sex and national origin the most commonly cited protected traits. Approximately 9 percent of cases were related to housing, 6 percent public accommodations, and less than 1 percent educational institutions. Seven cases were complaints alleging non-compliance with the District’s language access laws, which OHR enforces. Additionally, OHR successfully settled 41 percent of the 348 cases it mediated, with complainant benefits totaling over $2.7 million.
OHR’s proactive efforts to eradicate discrimination included leading Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force, which will develop and release a District-wide model bullying prevention policy in early 2013. OHR also launched groundbreaking awareness campaigns on behalf of transgender and gender non-conforming communities, individuals who speak little or no English, and people discriminated against in housing. A digital outreach initiative started in June increased the number of OHR social media followers nearly tenfold, and resulted in an average weekly Facebook reach of 16,341 people during the four month campaign.
More details about OHR’s caseload, its mediation and its outreach efforts are available in the Highlights of 2012 report, which is available for download at ohr.dc.gov/annualreports/2012.
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.