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Welcome to the Seattle Office for Civil Rights

En Español

Since 1969, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) has helped make Seattle a city where all people enjoy equal rights, equal opportunity and freedom from illegal discrimination. SOCR is a member of the International Association of Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA), which works for social justice around the world.

Our Mission

Applying both federal and local laws, the SOCR addresses illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and contracting within the Seattle city limits. From filing a charge through the investigation of a case, SOCR provides a forum for resolution and remedies against discriminatory conduct. We also provide policy recommendations to City government and educate the public on civil rights issues. Through our commitment to human rights and dignity, SOCR works to eliminate the practice and vestige of racism and to achieve social justice in our city.

What We Do

Labor Standards

Education- Outreach and Engagement

Commissions

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights staffs four advisory commissions to the City of Seattle:

Enforce anti-discrimination laws in the City of Seattle in the areas of:

Employment

Did your boss fire you after you complained about racist remarks from co-workers?

SOCR investigates alleged discrimination in:

  • Hiring / firing / layoffs
  • Advertising
  • Wages
  • Promotion / assignments
  • Hostile work environment
  • Discipline
  • Retaliation
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Housing

Did a landlord refuse to rent to you because you have children?

SOCR investigates alleged discrimination in:

  • Sales / rentals of houses, apartments, condos, lots, etc.
  • Advertising
  • Disability accommodations or modifications
  • Harassment, interference, criminal intimidation
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Public Accommodations

Did a hostess, waiter or restaurant owner stop you from bringing in your service animal?

SOCR investigates alleged discrimination in:

  • Hotels
  • Government services
  • Restaurants and shops
  • Private schools
  • Recreational facilities
  • Theaters
  • Cafe
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Fair Contracting

Did a contractor ignore your bid because you hire non-English speaking workers?

SOCR investigates alleged discrimination in:

  • All contracts above $5,000 within the City of Seattle
  • All contracts with the City of Seattle (title VI)

The law also protects you from harassment and retaliation.

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title VI

The City of Seattle (City) assures that no person shall on the grounds of race, color, sex, age, disability or national origin, as provided by title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 (P.L. 100.259) be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity. The City further assures every effort will be made to ensure nondiscrimination in all of its programs activities, whether those programs and activities are federally funded or not.

In the event that the city distributes federal aid funds to another entity, the City will include title VI language in all written agreements and will monitor for compliance.

The Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) is responsible for initiating and monitoring title VI activities, preparing required reports and other City responsibilities as required by 23 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 200 and 49 Code of Federal Regulation 21.

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Predatory Lending

Predatory Lending is dishonest lending. Predatory loans harm borrowers by making it difficult or impossible for them to keep up with payments. Borrowers may pay unnecessary fees and excessive interest charges. If they miss their payments, they risk losing their home.

Predatory lenders prey on people who are unfamiliar with the banking system. They target seniors, people of color, or anyone whose credit makes it hard to get a regular loan.

Not all loans are predatory. Borrowers who do not meet minimum credit standards usually pay higher interest rates. But no one should be a victim of price gouging and outrageous fees.

Is it Discrimination?

  • A loan officer makes repeated phone calls to a 63-year old African American homeowner. He urges her to refinance her house at his special "neighborhood rates"--which are higher than current market rates.
  • A mortgage lender convinces a family that speaks little English to refinance their home loan on a yearly basis, and to pay hefty fees each time.
  • A loan officer spots a wheelchair user at a home improvement workshop. The lender promise low monthly payments on a loan to pay for a wheelchair ramp. The payments turn out to be more than the disabled man's SSI income, and eventually the lender seizes his house.

Downloadable Resources

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Executive Order

The Office for Civil Rights is authorized to receive and to investigate complaints of violations of the Mayor's Executive Order Affirming the Right of All Citizens to Receive City Services Equally.

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ADA/City Service Complaint Section 504

The Office for Civil Rights works to ensure that members of the public who have disabilities can use City services and facilities. The Disability Compliance Specialist coordinates accessibility evaluation of City programs and services, offers training to City departments on disability awareness and compliance with laws, staffs the City's 504/ADA Advisory Committee (TBA) and handles 504/ADA grievances alleging discrimination in City programs and facilities.

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Engagement Activities

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights can visit your agency or group to discuss civil rights and services. We offer in-depth workshops on enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.

SOCR coordinates numerous events on behalf of the City of Seattle (such as Human Rights Day and Take Our Daughters to Work Day), as well as special events throughout the year.

SOCR offers an array of brochures, fact sheets and posters covering SOCR's services. Many of these materials are available in translation. We also offer resources on issues such as women's rights, access for people with disabilities, the rights of sexual minorities, etc.

For more information call (206) 684-4507.

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How to File a Complaint