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Information about Investigations

Housed in the Department of Neighborhoods, the Community Relations Commission(CRC) was created to help eliminate discrimination or remove the effects of past discrimination within the City of Columbus. One way the Commission seeks to achieve this is by investigating complaints of discrimination. The CRC is authorized by Chapter 139 of the City Code to investigate, mediate, or refer for prosecution complaints of discrimination. In addition, the CRC may now issue a fine  If you believe you were subjected to discrimination, the CRC provides:

  • An efficient, thorough, and fair investigation
  • A voluntary option to resolve your complaint through mediation
  • Information and options to file with other governmental agencies charged with resolving discrimination complaints
  • Referrals to the City Attorney’s Office for complaints with a “Probable Cause” determination.  
  • Accountability in the form of a civil fine if is found thatdiscrimination has occurred. 


Investigation Requirements

The CRC will initiate an investigation of a complaint if the alleged discriminatory action meets the following requirements:

  • Occurred within the geographical limits of the City of Columbus
  • Occurred within the past six months
  • Occurred because of your membership in a protected class and in the area(s) of employment, public accommodation, or housing
  • For complaints of employment discrimination, the employer must have four or more employees


How to File

If you believe you were subjected to discrimination, there are three ways to file a complaint.

  1. Online: You may complete the online form available on the City of Columbus website at:  www.columbus.gov/neighborhoods/crc/complaint

  2. Mail: You may print, complete, and mail the form to: 

    Department of Neighborhoods – Community Relations Commission
    1410 Cleveland Ave, 2nd Floor
    Columbus, OH 43211

    The form is available to download here.

  3. In Person: You may visit the Department of Neighborhoods at 1410 Cleveland Ave, Columbus, OH 43211 in person to receive a paper form, guidance, and to submit your complaint. Please note that in person intake of discrimination complaints will resume on July 6, 2021. 

    Investigation Procedure

1.Upon submission of your complaint, the CRC will contact you to discuss your discrimination complaint and gather more information. If your complaint does not meet the requirements listed above, a CRC staff member will provide you information and options to file with other government agencies.2.The CRC strives to resolve complaints through voluntary mediation. If the complaint meets the requirements listed above, the CRC will invite both parties with an offer of to resolve the issue(s) through voluntary mediation with a trained mediator. If voluntary mediation is successful, the complaint will be considered resolved and dismissed. 

3.If the complaint is not resolved through voluntary mediation, the complainant has the option to resolve the complaint with a formal investigation. The formal investigation is conducted by a CRC staff member. This includes the finding of facts through interviews, reviewing relevant documents, and other steps as needed needed in order to produce a report and recommendation for the members of the CRC to review and vote on. 

4.If the CRC finds that unlawful discriminatory action occurred, it may issue a notice of administrative violation and with it a civil fine. Fines will be in the amount of $1,000 for a first offense, $2,500 for a second offense, and $5,000 for any additional offenses within a 5 year period. 

5. If the CRC finds that unlawful discrimination occurred, and no fine has been issued, it may refer the complaint to the City Prosecutor for review and potential criminal prosecution

6.If the CRC finds that no unlawful discriminatory action occurred, it may dismiss the complaint. 

 

Relevant Terms

Complainant: The person or organization filing a charge of discrimination alleging they were subjected to discrimination as defined by Title 23, Chapter 2331 of the Columbus City Codes. 

Respondent: The person or entity alleged to have engaged or is engaging in unlawful discriminatory practices as defined in Title 23, Chapter 2331 of the Columbus City Codes.

Voluntary Mediation: A process in which an unbiased third party facilitates communication and negotiation and promotes voluntary decision making by the parties to the dispute. This process shall abide by nationally recognized standards as adopted by the CRC.