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The Commission's Work

The Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission (HRC), known until 1970 as the Human Relations Commission, was created in 1957 by City Council under the leadership of Mayor Sam Eldersveld.  It works to protect the human and civil rights of the people of Ann Arbor. Its nine members are Ann Arbor residents appointed for three-year terms by the Mayor and City Council.

Much of the mission of the HRC is tied to Chapter 112 of Ann Arbor's Code of Ordinances, the Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO), which states this:

 It is the intent of the city that no individual be denied equal protection of the laws; nor shall any individual be denied the enjoyment of his or her civil or political rights or be discriminated against because of actual or perceived age, arrest record, color, disability, educational association, ethnicity, familial status, family responsibilities, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, height, HIV status, marital status, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, veteran status, victim of domestic violence or stalking, or weight.

  (Ord. No. 14-25, § 1, 10-20-14; Ord. No. 20-12 , § 1, 4-20-20) 

The commission's responsibilities are to:

(a)  Receive and review complaints from individuals alleging violations of Ann Arbor's human rights ordinance, Chapter 112 Non-Discrimination, and take appropriate action, including but not limited to referral of complaints to appropriate agencies or to the City Attorney, mediation of complaints, or dismissal of complaints;
(b)  Report annually to City Council regarding complaints received and actions taken;
(c)  With city staff, develop procedures to (1) enforce and (2) provide notice of non-compliance with nondiscrimination provisions of Chapter 112 Non-Discrimination applicable to city contractors;
(d)  With city staff, provide an annual report to City Council regarding compliance of city contractors with nondiscrimination provisions of Chapter 112 Non-Discrimination;
(e)  Investigate, study, hold hearings and make recommendations to City Council regarding complaints from any class or group protected under the human rights ordinance;
(f)  Make periodic public reports and recommendations to the City Council and City Administrator on ways to improve city government programs and ordinances designed to eliminate discrimination or to remove the effects of past discrimination;
(g)  Communicate with federal and state agencies regarding human rights and affirmative action programs for the purpose of making recommendations to City Council;
(h)  Provide education and programs about the human rights ordinance, other commission initiatives, and/or to discourage and eliminate racial tensions, prejudice, and/or discrimination.

(Ord. No. 68-69, 1-19-70; Ord. No. 28-78, 6-19-78; Ord. No. 15-20, § 2, 9-8-15)

In addition, City Council may "delegate to the Human Rights Commission other powers and functions permitted by law concerning the protection of human rights."  (Ord. No. 15-20, § 3, 9-8-15)

The Human Rights Commission is also responsible for helping to enforce Ann Arbor's Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance (Chapter 122 of Title IX of Ann Arbor's Code of Ordinances).  That ordinance, which took effect on April 18, 2021, prohibits landlords (except under very limited circumstances and conditions) from obtaining information about an applicant's criminal history or refusing to rent to an applicant because of such information.

The HRC accepts, investigates and works to resolve complaints of violations of the Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance and Non-Discrimination Ordinance.  See below for more information on how to file complaints.

The HRC has focused on a variety of topics over the years, including these:

  • Enhanced protections against discrimination
  • Civilian police review 
  • Access to housing for those with criminal records
  • Prohibition of conversion therapy for minors

Reports and Resolutions

Police Review

HRC Annual Reports

Other Resolutions

Meetings

Human Rights Commission meetings are open to the public. They are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m., usually in Basement Conference Room A and sometimes in City Council Chambers, at Larcom City Hall, located at 301 E. Huron St.  During the pandemic, meetings are being held online.  For HRC meeting information go to http://a2gov.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx  

The HRC welcomes and relies upon input from members of the community. You are welcome to attend any meeting, speak to the commission during the public comment period, and provide written documents to the commission. If you have any questions for the commission, you can email them at [email protected] or call them at 734.794.6141.

The commission adheres to these public comment period procedures, in accordance with its by-laws: 

  1. Guests who wish to speak must indicate their request on the sign-in sheet prior to the start of each meeting.
  2. The Chair shall give up to 6 members of the community 5 minutes  each to address the Commission.  The Chair may extend an individual's speaking time at his/her discretion.
  3.  Public comment on non-agenda items may be limited at the Chair's discretion.
  4. If more than 6 people sign up to speak, the Chair may limit the time or number of comments per topic to allow more topics to be heard. 
  5. Guests shall demonstrate respect for one another and the commissioners.
  6. Guests shall not participate in the commission meeting except during their own presentation. There shall be no interruptions of a guest's presentation.
  7. Following the public comment period, commissioners may ask speakers for brief clarifications.  In some instances, commissioners may choose to place topics raised in public comment on future agendas.  Speakers may then be asked to return to speak to the commission when those agenda topics are discussed.
  8. The Chair reserves the right to ask any guest to leave the meeting if they do not honor these rules.​

Filing Complaints with the Human Rights Commission

Complaints of Non-Discrimination Ordinance Violations

The Non-Discrimination Ordinance prohibits unlawful discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.  Unlawful discrimination includes discrimination because of actual or preceived age, arrest record, color, disability, educational association, ethnicity, familial status, family responsibilities, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, height, HIV status, marital status, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, veteran status, victim of domestic violence or stalking, or weight.

You can read the complete Non-Discrimination Ordinance here: link to Non-Discrimination Ordinance

If you believe your rights under Ann Arbor's Non-Discrimination Ordinance have been violated, please complete and submit your complaint using this online form: link to online complaint form here 

Or you may complete and send by mail or email a Discrimination Complaint and/or Request for Information form (see links below) to the addresses noted on the form.  (Complaint forms in English can be completed and submitted online or sent to the HRC. Complaint forms in Spanish, Arabic and French are currently unavailable for online submission so must be sent by email or mail to the HRC.)

Complaints of Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance Violations​

The Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance eliminates the use of criminal history in tenant selection by Ann Arbor housing providers so that people with criminal records have a fair opportunity to compete for rental housing and reside with family members and others.

You can read the complete Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance here: link to Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance

If you believe your rights under Ann Arbors's Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance have been violated, please complete and submit your complaint using this online form:  link to online complaint form here

General Information about Complaints

After your complaint has been received, it will be assigned to an HRC commissioner for review.  The commissioner and/or the HRC management assistant will contact you soon.  Please be patient as all commissioners volunteer their services.  If the situation described in your complaint changes substantially, you have any questions that need to be addressed before the HRC contacts you, or you do not hear from the commission within two weeks after you have submitted your complaint, please let the commission know by calling 734-794-6141 or emailing [email protected].

HRC members are responsible for investigating allegations of violations of Ann Arbor's Non-Discrimination and Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinances.  Upon receipt of a complaint, the HRC will review the complaint, provide a copy of the complaint to the City Attorney's Office for their files, communicate with the complainant, and take appropriate action on the matter, including but not limited to, one or more of the following:

a.  Referring the complainant to other local, state or federal entities for investigation and remedy;

b.  Informally mediating the matter between the involved parties;

c.  Referring the complaint to the City Attorney for further investigation and action;

d.  Dismissing the complaint, after review with the City Attorney, if the allegations do not constitute a violation of the Ordinance.

Complaints are best filed as soon as the complainant feels emotionally and/or physically able to do so safely. While the HRC will accept and review all complaints whenever filed, memories fade and evidence is sometimes lost, which can compromise the capacity to substantiate a claim.  Also, the ability of the HRC to resolve, enforce and/or refer the complainant to other agencies or forums may be limited by the passage of time.  For example, prosecution of a violation of a city ordinance is not possible if the complaint is filed more than two years after the incident occurred.

Please be aware that although the HRC is required to give the City Attorney copies of the complaints it receives, the City Attorney will be involved only where necessary and your privacy will be maintained wherever possible. All documents are, however, subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, and confidential information will be redacted appropriately.

Complainants also have the option of retaining a private attorney to pursue money damages or injunctive relief for violation of the ordinances under a private cause of action. 

In addition, complainants may also wish to consider filing complaints with appropriate state, federal, or other local agencies. Deadlines for filing those complaints are neither extended nor otherwise changed by the filing of a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

Filing Complaints with State and Federal Agencies

There are also state and federal agencies where you may be able to file complaints if you believe your rights under state and/or federal civil rights laws have been violated.  Here are some links that may be helpful.

Applying for Expungements of Old Criminal Records

Thanks to new laws, many people with old criminal records now have the opportunity to have their criminal records “expunged."

“Expungement" means that your criminal record can be hidden from public view. It means that when you apply for a job, housing, financial aid, or a professional license, you no longer have to list the criminal offenses that have been expunged. It also means that if employers, landlords, or educational or professional institutions search your criminal history, they will not be able to see the criminal offenses that have been expunged.

The Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office strongly encourages eligible people to apply to expunge their old criminal records. A new unit in their office has been set up to work with community partners and assist in expungement.

For more information about expungements and how to apply for one, click on https://www.washtenaw.org/3364/Expungements

Some Local Resources

Local organizations that may also be able to help you resolve your civil rights related concerns include these:

Independent Community Police Oversight Commission 

Independent Community Police Oversight Commission

The ordinance creating the new Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (ICPOC) was approved on October 18, 2018.  This civilian body is intended to provide a new layer of oversight of the Ann Arbor Police Department and to strengthen police-community relations, while creating a process for independent review of police policies, practices, and actions.  

LGBTQ Liaisons

LGBTQ Liaison to the Mayor

The LGBTQ liaison to the mayor works to ensure that the concerns and needs of the LGBTQ community are heard.  Naomi Goldberg was appointed by the mayor to serve in this volunteer position. Naomi can be reached at 734.277.4575 or via email at [email protected]

LGBTQ Liaison to the Ann Arbor Police Department

Sergeant Dawn Murphy is the LGBTQ Liaison for the AAPD. She can be reached at (734) 794.6900 ext. 49112 or at [email protected]

Commission Members

 Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 8647
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
Voice Mailbox: (734) 794-6141
E-mail: [email protected]

City staff support: 
Denise Jeanes
Email: [email protected]
Office: (734) 794-6291

 

Virus Does Not Discrimination poster -3-20-20.pdf