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What Every Business Owner Should Know

How To Respond to a Complaint
Filed with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights
Someone has named you in a discrimination complaint...

  • This does not mean that you have discriminated against anyone. A charge of discrimination is the first step in an investigative process.
  • Our job is to investigate claims of discrimination in the City of Seattle. We enforce City, State and Federal anti-discrimination laws.
  • We do not take sides We are neutral agency. Until we finish our investigation, we reach no conclusion about the complaint.
  • Throughout the investigation, all parties will be able to present their side of the story.
  • At any time during our investigation, you may request a negotiated resolution of the charge.
  • This page gives you a brief overview of our investigative process. Please refer to your notification letter and other documents for a complete statement of your legal obligations.
  • We want to work with all parties to resolve complaints. Please call SOCR at (206) 684-4500 with any questions or concerns.

Case Process - an Overview

1. We send you a Notification of Charge & request for Information

  • Someone has filed a charge of illegal discrimination agains tyou or your business. The "Request for Information" is your first opportunity to respond to the charging party's complaint.
  • Before you respond to this request, you have the option to call our office (206-684-4500) to ask for a negotiated resolution of the charge. You may request a negotiated resolution at any time during the investigation.

2. You respond in writing within 20 days (10 days for housing cases)

  • Please respond to each item in the Request for Information.
  • Please answer the questions as comletely as possible.
  • Include documentation to support your answers.
    Also include witnesses' statements, if possible
  • The investigator assigned to the case may call you for more information.

3. The charging party responds

  • The charging party has a chance to respond to the information you have submitted.

4. We investigate

  • The investigator assigned to the case contacts you to set up interviews with you and witnesses related to the case.
  • During the interview(s), the investigator may request additional records or files. You are obligated to comply with all such requests.
  • Investigators are neutral and objective. They do not take sides.

5. We review all information

  • The investigator reviews all the information and materials gathered from you, the charging party, and witnesses.
  • Our investigators follow the law to evaluate the evidence.

6. We issue a finding "reasonable cause" - or - "no reasonable cause"

  • If we find reasonable cause, the investigator will contact you prior to issuing the written finding.

Negotiated Resolution

  • A negotiated resolution offers an alternative to a full investigation. It can save you time, attorney's fees, and emotional turmoil.
  • You may request a negotiated resolution at any time.
  • You and the charging party meet with our investigator or a neutral third party, to negotiate a settlement that is acceptable to all sides.
  • Settling a case is not an admission of fault.
    A settlement ends the case for you as long as you comply with the agreed-upon terms.

Results of the Investigation
Reasonable Cause

  • The evidence supports the charge that discrimination has occurred.
  • You will receive a copy of the finding and an explanation.
  • You have seven days to make an appointment to discuss settling the case.
  • If you do reach a settlement, the Office for Civil Rights has the option to turn over the case to the Seattle Attorney's Office to pursue litigation.

No reasonable cause

  • The evidence does not support the charge that discrimination has occurred.
  • You will receive a copy of the finding and an explanation.
  • The case is closed, unless the charging party files an appeal within 30 days to the Seattle Human Rights Commission.

To download the Adobe PDF graphic brochure How To Respond to a Complaint.

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Employing Immigrants

As part of our mission to promote fair employment practices among the Seattle business community, SOCR developed the Employing Immigrants' site with easy access to immigrant employment law to help prevent discrimination in the workplace. To visit the site.

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