Filing a Human Rights Complaint

What is discrimination?

According to the Charlottesville Human Rights Ordinance, unlawful discrimination occurs when an individual is denied an opportunity to engage in a protected activity because of their membership or perceived membership in a protected aspect of their identity. You can learn more about what is protected by visiting the Charlottesville Human Rights Ordinance subpage.

If you believe that you have experienced unlawful discrimination in the City of Charlottesville, you can file a complaint with the Office of Human Rights.

Protected Activities

You are protected from discrimination while participating in the following activities:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Public Accommodations
  • Credit
  • Private Education

Protected Classes

The following characteristics or parts of your identity are protected from discrimination: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and disability.

The following additional characteristics or parts of your identity are protected from discrimination in housing: source of funds, elderliness, familial status

How can you file a complaint?

The Office of Human Rights offers multiple ways to file a complaint. If you do not see an option for filing a complaint that meets your needs or if you have questions, please call the Office of Human Rights at (434) 970-3023, and a staff person will assist you.

Complete the Intake Questionnaire Form to request an intake appointment:

  1. Complete the required fields of the Intake Questionnaire Form to the best of your ability, either electronically or on paper. 
  2. You may email the completed electronic form to humanrights@charlottesville.gov or submit a printed form by mail or in person.
  3. Once your Intake Questionnaire has been reviewed, staff will contact you to schedule an appointment to discuss filing a complaint.

Schedule an intake appointment to file a complaint in person:

  1. Call our office at (434) 970-3023 to schedule an appointment.
  2. Our staff will schedule a time to meet with you, discuss your case, and complete the necessary intake forms.
  3. You may also visit the Office of Human Rights in person at 507 E Main St on the Downtown Mall next to the Post Office.

What happens next?

Complaints are assessed to ensure that they meet the criteria for further action.  If your complaint is approved for further action, the Office of Human Rights will contact you as well as the person or group against whom you filed the complaint (the respondent). 

A complaint may be resolved directly through informal means or mediation, or it may be investigated. If investigation is appropriate, staff will gather facts and evidence related to your complaint and present an investigative report to the Director of the Human Rights Commission. Based on the report, the Director will issue a finding stating whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred. 

After the Director issues a finding, staff will discuss potential next steps with you. These may include revisiting direct resolution, a public hearing by the Human Rights Commission, or potential civil action in the appropriate court.

You can read detailed information about the complaint and resolution processes in the Charlottesville Human Rights Ordinance.

How are complaints Resolved?

Once a complaint has been authorized for further action by the Director, either party to the complaint may request resolution through the options below.

Informal Dialogue

Office staff can attempt to facilitate the resolution of your dispute through conversations with you and the respondent.

Mediation

If both you and the respondent agree to participate, the Office can arrange a formal dialogue between you, the respondent, and a professional third-party facilitator. Successful mediation results in a legally-binding settlement agreement between you and the respondent. 

Conciliation

This option, used in housing discrimination complaints only, is a formal dialogue between you and the respondent that is facilitated by a professional. Successful conciliation results in a legally-binding conciliation agreement between you, the respondent, and the City of Charlottesville.