FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 11, 2018
CONTACT: Stephanie Franklin, Director of Communications & Community Engagement; [email protected]
OHR Releases Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report
Report details data on discrimination cases and key initiatives
(WASHINGTON, DC)— Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR), the District’s civil rights enforcement agency, released its FY 2017 annual report. The report highlights new insights on data related to the rate of discrimination complaints received in the District as well as education and prevention efforts. OHR enforces the DC Human Rights Act of 1977 (the Act), which makes discrimination illegal based on 20 protected traits for people that live, visit or work in the District and prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and educational institutions.
Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Act, which remains one of the leading and most progressive civil rights statues in the country. “We are forever indebted to the vision and sacrifices made by local leaders who had the foresight during such a turbulent period in American history to craft this bold and aspirational law” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “Given that we are living through this current period where our country is experiencing many divisions we, in the District, are still standing strong together and asserting our DC Values of access to justice and equality for all. A message we are confident can and will inspire change beyond our borders.”
Over the past few decades, amendments to the Act have steadily expanded the protections it offers, keeping the District at the forefront of civil rights. The broad spectrum of protections ranges from personal appearance to age, race, national origin, gender identity or expression (c. 2006) and most recently credit information (c. 2017). The report includes data on the number of cases citing each trait by area. In FY 2017, the District received a total 706 complaints of discrimination docketed for investigation and because mediation is mandatory, approximately 40% of those cases settled through mediation for a total of over $2 million dollars in monetary compensation to complainants.
As the report highlights, OHR’s proactive outreach strategies and education programs are important because they complement its enforcement role in FY 2017 through outreach and training to over 120 District businesses on effective and inclusive business practices; creating access to resources and education for the public through over 100 “Know Your Rights” sessions in all eight Wards; and equipping our District agencies to better serve residents and visitors through its Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counseling, Language Access and Bullying Prevention Programs.
Other key initiatives included partnerships with TEDxMidAtlantic and the AARP to produce a multimedia TEDx series on the impacts of unconscious bias in today’s world; and the creation of a local interagency response team to address any activity or messages that could perceived as threatening to communities or could result in hate crime through the city’s DC Values in Action initiative.
For the full report visit ohr.dc.gov/page/annualreports/2017.
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.