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COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


[photo, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland] The Commission on Human Relations originated in 1927 as the Interracial Commission (Chapter 559, Acts of 1927). In 1943, it became the Commission to Study Problems Affecting the Colored Population (Chapter 431, Acts of 1943). Renamed the Commission on Interracial Problems and Relations in 1951, it reorganized as the Commission on Human Relations in 1969 (Chapter 548, Acts of 1951; Chapter 83, Acts of 1968).

The Commission seeks to eliminate discrimination based on race, color, ancestry or national origin, religion, sex, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, genetic information, physical or mental disability, and age. Maryland anti-discrimination statutes for housing, employment, and public accommodations are administered and enforced by the Commission. It also initiates and investigates complaints of discrimination in State government agencies and enforces the State's commercial nondiscrimination policy.

William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland, July 2003. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


To evaluate the merits of a complaint, the Commission may conduct public hearings, administer oaths, and issue subpoenas. It also is authorized to compel attendance or testimony of witnesses and oversee exhibits of books, papers, records, and documents relevant or necessary for legal proceedings.

In addition to other relief, the Commission can issue a cease and desist order if evidence shows that a respondent has engaged in a discriminatory act. In cases of employment discrimination, it may award up to two years of back pay.

Commission work for fair employment practices is supplemented by a deferral relationship and funding from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Similarly, through cooperative agreements, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds case processing and community education for the Commission's fair housing efforts.

Nine members constitute the Commission. They are appointed to six-year terms by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. The Governor names the Executive Director (Code 1957, Art. 49B).

The Commission works through the Mediation Unit, Office of General Counsel, and two divisions: Administrative and Support Services, and Case Processing.


CASE PROCESSING DIVISION

Complaints filed with the Commission on housing, public accomodations, and employment, are received, processed, and investigated by the Case Processing Division. This Division processes complaints directly from individuals who believe they have been discriminated against and cases referred by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Division maintains full-service offices in Hagerstown (Washington County), Leonardtown (St. Mary's County), and Salisbury (Wicomico County).

The Division works through four units: Field Operations; Housing; Intake; and Investigations.


OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

The General Counsel represents the Commission at all hearings and judicial proceedings in which the Commission is a party. These included appearances before the Office of Administrative Hearings, and State and federal trial and appellate courts. The Office issues opinions to commissioners and staff, trains investigators, and provides technical assistance to businesses, corporations, organizations, and State agencies (Code 1957, Art. 49B, sec. 2(c)).

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2009

July 1, 2009   
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