Citizens Services & Recreation
Human Relations Commission (HRC)
Human Relations Commission (HRC)
The HRC has the authority to recommend human rights needs to the County Commissioners. The HRC monitors the affirmative action performance of County government and other agencies. The HRC monitors the level and types of hate crimes occurring in the County. As necessary, the HRC hears cases on appeal from Department findings of discrimination or lack of discrimination.
Origin & History of Human Relations in Frederick County
- Citizens organized Inter-Racial Committee meetings. Amid the local, state and national tension of the times, people began to meet to address equity and discriminatory issues in Frederick.
- Originally the Committee was a Frederick City work group. The Human Relations Council was formed and it was changed to a County-wide work group.
- The University of Maryland Institute for Governmental Services, studied the Council and recommended a separate Human Relations Commission and Human Relations Department.
- With increased formal authority by legislative action, the Council achieved Commission status. By Resolution (No. 89-24) and Ordinance (No. 89-48-579) the County Commissioners established the Frederick County Human Relations Commission (HRC) and the Frederick County Human Relations Department (HRD).The HRD was authorized to accept complaints in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of race, age, sex (gender only), religion, marital status, disability, color, and national origin.
- The Regulations of the Frederick County HRC were adopted by the County Commissioners.
- The County Commissioners amended the County's Anti-Discrimination Regulation to allow no less than three HRC members to hear appeals to HRD complaint determinations (Resolution 98-15).
- Resolution No. 01-08 added to the Anti-Discrimination Regulation, a provision against retaliation, and added the authority of the HRD, after consultation with the County Attorney's Office, to issue a subpoena to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of records and documents relevant and necessary to complete the investigation of an authorized complaints.
- Governor Ehrlich signed enabling legislation HB 396 giving authority to the County Commissioners to vote to give remedial authority to the HRC.
- The County Commissioners by a 4-1 vote authorized the HRC to grant equitable relief only, to sustained victims of local discrimination. The proposed Equitable Relief Ordinance was presented at a County Commissioner's work session on November 20, 2002. The HRC approved the Rules of Procedure to support a fair process on September 27, 2003.A public hearing on the matter was held on December 16, 2003. The Equitable Relief Authority became effective on January 2, 2004.
- In 2005, the General Assembly amended Section 2-2-68 of the Frederick County Code to require the HRD to investigate certain complaints alleging discrimination as to familial status and source of income. The HRD asked the Board of County Commissioners to amend the Regulations of the HRC to formally give the HRD the power to investigate complaints of familial status and source of income discrimination in housing. A public hearing was held on this Resolution on February 21, 2006. The Resolution was approved and adopted on February 21, 2006.
- On July 29, 2008, the HRC voted to adopt new Regulations, which must, in turn, be approved by the Board of County Commissioners by Resolution prior to becoming effective. The new Regulations reorganized and restated earlier provisions, including those related to the procedures for filing complaints, conducting investigations, conciliating complaints, making preliminary and final determinations and decisions, holding hearings, awarding relief, and processing appeals. These Regulations also added definitions for "age discrimination" and "disability", amended the definition of "employer" to make the definition consistent with Section 2-2-68(d)(1)(iii) of the Frederick County Code, deleted the definition of "physical or mental handicap", changed the term "affirmative action" to "equitable relief", and allowed for the filing of complaints of familial status discrimination in employment. Additional changes were made to reflect the inclusion of the HRD into the Citizens Services Division in 2005, and to clarify the method by which a decision to dismiss a complaint may be challenged in court. A public hearing was held on this Resolution along with the proposed Regulations of the HRC on October 21, 2008.The Resolution was approved and adopted, and became effective on October 21, 2008.
- The HRC asked the Board of County Commissioners to strengthen the language in Section 1-2-93 of Chapter 224 of the 1988 Laws of Maryland, which currently describe certain discriminatory practices as being contrary to the public policy of Frederick County, to state that discrimination in Frederick County is unlawful. Section 1-2-93 would also be amended to define discrimination as an act that is unlawful under State or Federal law when based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status or disability. At the same time, the Board of County Commissioners wished to amend the Ordinance to replace the term "physical or mental handicap" with the term "disability", to include a definition of "disability", and clarify the extent to which familial status and source of income discrimination are also against public policy and unlawful in Frederick County. A public hearing was held on the Ordinance on April 12, 2009. The Ordinance was approved and adopted on April 21, 2009.
Meeting Times & Location
The last Tuesday of each month, (except December), 7:00 p.m., usually at Winchester Hall, call (301) 600-1109 or 711 for Maryland Relay Services.
Appointments To HRC
The HRC is a 15 member volunteer Commission. The Frederick County Board of Commissioner's appoint members to the HRC for terms of 3 years. The applicant must be a Frederick County registered voter. Candidates are interviewed by the HRC Executive Board. Send letters of interest to Joyce Grossnickle, 12 E. Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701.
HRC Annual Awards Program
individuals, businesses and organizations for their human rights efforts in the Frederick County community.
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12 East Church Street
Frederick, MD 21701