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Human Rights Commission



What is the Human Rights Commission?

Established in 2018, the Cuyahoga County Human Rights Commission (CCHRC) promotes diversity, inclusion and harmony to ensure equal opportunity and treatment for all citizens of the County.

The Commission hears and decides each discrimination complaint through a neutral process which gives complainants and respondents the opportunity to present evidence and testimony at an administrative hearing. The work of the Commission is authorized by Chapter 206.13 and Title 15 of the Cuyahoga County Ordinances.

Who is Covered?

The CCHRC enforces the County’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance by resolving complaints of discrimination, including those based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression (SOGI).

Cuyahoga County’s Anti-Discrimination also prohibits discrimination based on the following protected classes:
  • Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression in combination with race, color, religion, military status, national origin, disability, age, ancestry, familial status, and sex.

What is Covered?

  • Housing (sale, lease, rental, financing, etc.)
  • Employment (hiring, promotion, discipline, working conditions, salary, etc.)
  • Public Accommodations (access to goods, services, business and public spaces)

Process Overview

Within five days after a notorized complaint is filed, the Commission determines whether it has jurisdiction to hear your case (Section 1501.03). A case number will be assigned. After a complaint is filed, the Commission notifies each named respondent by mail. Respondents have 30 days to submit a response [Section 1501.03(C)].

The complainant and respondent may voluntarily decide to mediate and settle their dispute. If each side does not agree to participate in mediation, an administrative hearing will be scheduled. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement at the mediation conference, the Commission will schedule the matter for an administrative hearing [Section 1501.03(D)].

About the Administrative Hearing

The Commission does not prosecute the case and is not the complainant’s lawyer. The Commission does not become involved with a case unless it comes before it for a final ruling after an administrative hearing.

Complainants must prove their claims of discrimination by presenting reliable, probative, and substantial evidence [See Title 15, Section 1501.04(C)]. Both sides can submit documents, records and other materials and testimony for consideration by the Commission at the administrative hearing. Commission orders and decisions are issued in writing and mailed to all the parties within 30-days of the hearing. This decision may be appealed to Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas by either party [See Title 15, Section 1501.06].

View the Human Rights Commission Process Flow Chart.

Remedies and Relief for Discrimination

If the Commission finds substantial evidence of a violation of the Cuyahoga County Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, the Commission can order anyone who has been found to have discriminated in violation of the Cuyahoga County Anti-Discrimination Ordinance to cease and desist from engaging in the unlawful conduct and to pay complainant’s attorney's fees. Upon a finding of unlawful discriminatory practice or act, the Commission may also impose civil administrative penalties from $1,000 to $5,000 for violations for each offense paid to Cuyahoga County [Section 1501.05(B)].

All penalties collected will be used to defray costs and enforcement of the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, and to support the County’s efforts in eradicating discrimination. If the Commission finds substantial evidence of a violation, the Commission can order anyone who has been found to have discriminated in violation of the Cuyahoga County Anti-Discrimination Ordinance to cease and desist from engaging in the unlawful conduct and to pay complainant’s attorney’s fees. Upon a finding of unlawful discriminatory practice or act, the Commission may also impose civil administrative penalties from $1,000 to $5,000 for each offense paid to Cuyahoga County [Section 1501.05(B)].

Many of the Commission’s cases are settled by the parties before a full administrative adjudication on the merits. These settlements conserve the resources of both the parties and the Commission, so if at any time after filing a complaint, you are interested in mediating your dispute, please advise the Commission.

PLEASE NOTE: The Human Rights Commission is just one resource to file complaints of discrimination. Applicable state and federal laws may also cover your discrimination claims. Complaints filed with the County have restricted time periods and deadlines depending on the type of discrimination you are filing against. A complaint for housing must be filed within 330 days, and a complaint for employment or public accommodation must be filed within 150 days. You may also go to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Equality Ohio Legal Clinic, the Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for further help or information.

Meet the Commissioners

Kimberly G. Barnett Mills, Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Email:
kbarnettmills@cuyahogacounty.us

Attorney Kimberly G. Barnett Mills has served the public all her professional life and has devoted her career to representing society’s most vulnerable. That career began at Legal Aid and in 2018 she returned to the Family Law Division where she protects/advocates for clients who were victims of violence in their divorce, custody and civil protection order matters. In 2020, she became a supervising attorney in the Intake and Volunteer Lawyers Program with Legal Aid.

Ms. Barnett-Mills asserted the rights of criminal defendants as an Assistant Public Defender for Cuyahoga County, and later sought justice for crime victims as the Chief Prosecutor for the City of Cleveland. Ms. Barnett-Mills also put her care and commitment to serving the most vulnerable among us to work outside of the courtroom. Ms. Barnett-Mills served as a member on both the FJC Executive Committee and Child Advocacy Center Advisory Committee to advance the need for trauma-focused streamlined services for survivors of violence. She supplements her Legal Aid casework with service on the African-American Vulnerable Population Committee and the Limited English Proficiency Committee. Ms. Barnett-Mills is also a member of the Cuyahoga County Domestic Violence Prevention Taskforce.

She received her Bachelors in History and Criminal Justice from Baldwin-Wallace College and her Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.


Timothy J. Downing, Chief Diversity Officer/Senior Counsel, Ulmer & Berne LLP
Email:
tdowning@cuyahogacounty.us

As a nationally-recognized problem solver and longtime champion of diversity and inclusion, Tim serves in dual roles at Ulmer: as a fierce advocate for clients, and as the firm’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer. As an advocate, he focuses his practice on complex business and employment litigation. As Chief Diversity Officer, he leads the firm’s successful diversity and inclusion initiatives, and works to increase the firm’s internal and external diversity and inclusion programming and community involvement, while overseeing its implementation and execution.


Todd K. Masuda, Attorney at Law, Seeley Savidge Ebert & Gourash (SSEG)
Email:
tmasuda@cuyahogacounty.us

Todd K. Masuda is an attorney in private practice, counseling companies and individuals in business and employment matters.