Welcome to the first issue of the Civil Rights Reporter
, an Ohio Attorney General’s Office newsletter aimed at raising awareness of Ohio’s laws against discrimination as well as important civil rights issues and cases.
The newsletter will be sent twice a year, and we encourage you to forward it to others who may find the information valuable. (For best results, please use the forward button at the bottom of the Civil Rights Reporter
e-mail you received.)
Appropriately, this first issue coincides with National Fair Housing Month, an observance that has occurred annually since April 1969, the first anniversary of Congress’ passage of the Fair Housing Act. The act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, and (as amended) sex, handicap, and family status. In fact, as you will read in a Q&A with Attorney General Mike DeWine in this issue, the attorney general led efforts to add family status to the act when he served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Civil Rights Reporter’s audience includes attorneys who practice civil rights law; staff of fair housing organizations, urban leagues, and similar organizations that advocate for civil rights; law school students; and others interested in this subject.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Civil Rights Section, by law, represents the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The staff includes a section chief and 10 assistant attorneys general who work throughout the state. They handle about 400 cases annually in the administrative forum, common pleas courts, and courts of appeals.
Most cases come to the Attorney General’s Office through the commission’s administrative process, governed by Ohio Revised Code Section 4112. It serves individuals who believe they have been discriminated against in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodation, higher education disability issues, or credit. The commission has jurisdiction over allegations of discrimination based on military status, disability, sex, religion, race, ancestry, color, age, national origin, and familial status (the presence of children younger than 18 in housing cases only).
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s services and processes are spelled out on its website at www.crc.ohio.gov/
. Matters not resolved through the commission’s conciliation process are referred to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, where the first step is to try to resolve the situation informally. If that is unsuccessful, the section prepares the case for trial or administrative hearing and continues to represent the commission through any subsequent appeals. The office also defends the commission’s decisions not to proceed with cases in which it finds no probable cause.
The Civil Rights Section also works to educate the public about Ohio’s anti-discrimination laws. Staff members train groups of all sizes, tailoring the subject matter to each audience. Many landlords and employers want to comply with the law, but don’t know how and sometimes don’t have the resources to determine how to handle a situation. By educating the public on Ohio’s laws against discrimination, the Attorney General’s Office hopes to encourage voluntary compliance, consistency, and fair access for all Ohioans.
More information and resources, including answers to frequently asked questions, appear at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/CivilRights
. To schedule a training session in your area, contact Civil Rights Section Chief Lori Anthony at Lori.Anthony@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov