Fort Wayne General Ordinance makes it unlawful to discriminate in the areas of employment, housing, education or public accommodation on the basis of a person’s race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, ancestry, pregnancy, retaliation, place of birth, disability, sexual orientation or familial status (familial status is a “protected class” in housing complaints only).
The purpose of the City of Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (Metro) is to educate, investigate, and eliminate discrimination, so as to insure all Fort Wayne citizens the equal protection and full availability of all rights and privileges of citizenship.
I. FILING A COMPLAINT
WHO: Any person claiming to be aggrieved by a discriminatory act or practice that is contrary to provisions of General Ordinance G-21-78, and such act or practice has occurred within the city limits of Fort Wayne, may file on his/her own behalf, or on behalf of the group or person of which he/she is a representative. A minor may file a complaint through a parent or legal guardian. Complaints outside city limits may also be filed at Metro, and will be forwarded to the appropriate state or federal agency.
WHEN: A complaint may be filed with Metro within three hundred (300) days of alleged discriminatory act or practice, but if it is over one hundred and eighty (180) days it will be sent to the regional Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office (EEOC) who would take the complaint through their process. A complainant has 1 year to file a housing complaint at Metro. Note: A complaint is not a lawsuit.
WHERE: Metro’s offices are located at 2310 Parnell Avenue, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805. The hours are Mon. & Tues. 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wed. & Thurs. 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fri. 8: 00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.
HOW: A complaint must be filed with Metro either by personal delivery or by mail. Commission staff shall provide necessary assistance in drafting and filing a complaint. The Commission or its staff does not usually initiate complaints except as provided for under Metro Rules and Regulations. All complaints must be timely filed and must meet minimum legal standards before they are accepted by Metro.
The investigator will gather and summarize all relevant facts available for each side. This may include request for supporting documents, testimonies, etc. The Commission may hold a “fact-finding” conference involving the complainant and the respondent to discuss the issues and attempt resolution of the complaint. The fact-finding conference is not a hearing. Attorneys for either side are welcome to participate in the investigation, but an attorney is NOT required.
III. DETERMINATION HEARING
If no settlement agreement is reached by the parties subsequent to the completion of the investigation, the Executive Director, Staff Attormey, and a Commissioner will hold a determination hearing (which the parties do not attend) to determine whether further action (due to evidence uncovered) is warranted. If so, a finding of “probable cause” is issued. If no further action on the complaint is warranted, a finding of “no probable cause” is issued and the complaint is dismissed. Complainants may appeal a decision of “no probable cause” to the Commission if they notify the Commission in writing of their intent to appeal within ten (10) days of notification of “no probable cause” determination.
Upon a finding of “probable cause”, a formal attempt at resolving the complaint will be made. If a settlement is achieved, a written settlement agreement will be issued for the signatures of all parties. Any agreement is subject to approval by the Commission. If approved, the settlement agreement has the same effect as a Final Order.
V. PUBLIC HEARING
Should formal conciliation fail, the matter will be scheduled for a formal public hearing if legal makes the assessment that sufficient evidence is present for complainant to meet his/her burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. At a public hearing, a Hearing Officer tries the case and may issue recommended Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, and a Final Order. If not appealed within ten (10) days after notification, the Commission may adopt, as a Final Order, the recommended order or determination without further hearings.
VI. FINAL ORDER
A Final Order by the Commission is binding. Either party may seek judicial review in civil court.
If the Commission finds that discrimination has occurred, a Final Order may include a cease and desist order, job reinstatement, monetary relief, making a house or apartment available, mandatory diversity training, or other affirmative action to eliminate the effect of discrimination.
You can file a discrimination complaint in the areas of: