A privately-owned business may not unlawfully discriminate against a person in the provision of “public accommodation” – the services and facilities it offers. Examples include restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, private schools and daycare centers. If you are a patron or a person who has been denied goods or services based on discriminatory reasons, you may file a complaint of discrimination.
While it is best to file your complaint as soon as possible, you must file your complaint no later than 180 days from the “last date of harm” – the date you believe the most recent discriminatory event occurred. You should be prepared to provide specifics about the type of discrimination you believe you encountered, such as a denial of service or an architectural or communication barrier. You should also be prepared to provide specifics such as the location address, company and individual names of persons involved, complete contact information, and other details pertaining to the alleged discrimination.
Once submitted, you will be contacted by the Department within 30 days. If it is determined that the Department has jurisdiction, your complaint will be assigned to an investigator who will review and investigate your complaint, which may include additional interviews with yourself, the business, witnesses, etc. Supporting documents may also be requested and reviewed.
We emphasize and encourage the parties to “conciliate” at any point in the process, that is, reach an informal resolution to the dispute. If no resolution can be reached, upon the conclusion of the investigation we will determine whether there is “probable cause” to believe unlawful discrimination occurred. If the allegation is not supported by evidence, the complaint will be dismissed. If a probable cause finding is issued, we will attempt to eliminate the alleged unlawful practices by informal methods of conciliation. If we are unable to resolve the complaint through informal negotiations or conciliation, we will provide for an administrative hearing to determine what remedy is necessary to correct the effect of the discrimination.