Agency release of annual report highlighting record setting engagement with OHR
The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) recently issued its Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Highlights, reporting a swell of over 2,000 inquires of discrimination, 664 cases docketed, 467 mediated settlements and 31 cases certified to the Commission on Human Rights, the largest case processing uptick in the agency’s history. OHR attributes the shift in inquiries to the widespread popularity of the District’s fair chance law, The Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment Act that the agency began enforcing in late 2014 and extensive outreach to multiple stakeholders.
“At the end of almost two years of enforcement, it is safe to say that the success around District’s first fair chance law has dramatically influenced the way operate and conduct outreach and prepare community members and businesses to better understand the law” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “Exceptional customer service and innovative education campaigns are critical and the ever expanding docket of our cases is proof of the trust we have established with the communities we serve. ”
In addition to its enforcement work, OHR also tailored its outreach towards several communities that have become growing targets for discrimination, most notably Muslims, Transgender individuals and women. Sex as a protected trait covered under the DC Human Rights Act has consistently been one of the most commonly cited traits in employment discrimination over the last three years. In response to this trend OHR in partnership with TEDxMidAtlantic curated the District government’s first TEDx series titled “E.V.E. Everyone Values Equality”, to highlight the stories of women and the challenges they face in life and the workplace. This series also served to highlight OHR’s Protecting Pregnant Workers law specifically aimed towards women’s rights to workplace accommodations around their pregnancy.
In FY 16, OHR also kept the District at the forefront of thought leadership for creating a more inclusive workplace and city for the Transgender community as well as forging strong partnerships amongst many communities to stand with Muslim residents in the face of the heated 2016 presidential election. OHR’s publications Valuing Transgender Employees and Applicants and Hired and Transgender, guidance to employers on how to create welcoming environments for all employees regardless of their gender identity or expression in tandem with its Fast With DC Muslims campaign outlined a new trajectory for the agency moving into FY 17.
“We expect to continue on this trajectory towards inclusion and safety for all that live, work or visit DC and ensure that our DC Values are present in all our work” said OHR Palacio. “My hope is that as we near the end of 2017 that the District remains on the cutting edge of progressive laws and protections that benefit everyone and create a better city.”
For the full report visit ohr.dc.gov/page/annualreports/2016.