What happens when an enforcement complaint is filed?
- Someone contacts the Office of Civil Rights & Open Government and talks with an investigator. If we have authority to accept the case, we will draft a complaint (called a "charge") and the person will sign it.
- We send a copy of the complaint and written notice to the person or business named in the charge as Respondent (the one alleged to have committed the discriminatory act). The Respondent has a chance to respond in writing to the complaint.
- The specialist attempts to resolve the complaint through agreement of the parties, using mediation techniques, if the parties agree to participate.
- If an agreed resolution does not occur, then we complete our investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the King County ordinance has been violated. Our investigators gather evidence in the form of witness interviews, written documents, on-site visits, etc.
- After completing the investigation, our office makes a determination about whether the evidence indicates "reasonable cause" or "no cause" to believe discrimination occurred. We send the written decision to the Charging Party and Respondent.
- If there is a no cause finding, the Charging Party may appeal that decision to the OCROG Director.
- If there is a reasonable cause finding, the specialist works with the Charging Party and Respondents to develop a written settlement agreement that is signed by all parties.
- If an agreement between the parties is not possible, our Director will order appropriate remedies, such as back pay, rent refunds, staff training, or other remedies. The Order may be appealed either to a hearing examiner (for fair housing, fair employment or public accommodations) or to a court (for fair housing only).
What can I do to help my case?
Share as much information as you can with us. Write down the details of what happened to you, including dates, times, who was involved, as well as names of possible witnesses. Keep a ongoing log of events. Save any written materials that relate to your case. Note:Do not try to obtain witness statements — leave that to the investigating specialist.
What about retaliation?
It is illegal for a Respondent to retaliate against you because you filed a discrimination complaint. If this happens, let our office know immediately — you can file another complaint which will be investigated, regardless of the findings or outcome of the original complaint.