Equitable Treatment for All
The Metropolitan Human Relations Commission aims to ensure that all residents and employees in Nashville and Davidson County are treated fairly and equitably. One service the Commission offers towards this end is compliance enforcement—a process in which staff monitors, investigates and works to resolve complaints of discrimination within this jurisdiction.
To ensure the best outcomes for people experiencing real or perceived discrimination, we also believe it necessary to recognize the intersection between our compliance program and the Human Relations Commission’s other service area: multicultural education and policy advocacy. Ideally, the compliance process becomes a learning experience for complainants, respondents, and others affected by the situation. It promotes the opportunity for real, honest dialogue between the parties, formal mediation, diversity training and coaching for individuals and groups, and viable strategies for resolving the conflict, ensuring that rights are protected and upheld and eliminating discrimination in our midst.
Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Complainant
The Metro Human Relations Commission receives inquiries and complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or ancestry of birth in the areas of:
- Financial Services & Commercial Transactions
- Public Accommodations
Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to discriminatory acts or practices may phone or visit the office or fill out our online form to register an inquiry or complaint. Complaints should be filed within 180 days of the date in which the discriminatory act occurred. Upon receipt, the MHRC will determine whether our department has jurisdiction to move forward. If we do not, the Commission will refer you to other offices, departments or organizations that can provide the assistance you need.
Title VII and some other federal anti-discrimination laws give you a limited amount of time to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC). Filing an inquiry or complaint with the Metro Human Relations Commission does not stay or stop that time period from running or expiring. If you believe that you have a claim under Title VII or some other federal anti-discrimination law, you should discuss the issue when you contact the Metro Human Relations Commission or consider consulting an attorney, the EEOC, or the THRC.
How to File a Complaint
You may register an inquiry or complaint of discrimination with our office in three ways:
- by calling the Human Relations Commission office at (615) 880-3370
- by filling out our online inquiry and complaint form
- by visiting our office at the following address:
404 James Robertson Pike, Suite 130
Nashville, TN 37219
Whether you contact our office personally or submit an online form, it is important to have as much detailed information about the situation as possible. While our staff will assist you in preparing the required forms, you need to be prepared with full names, dates,places, addresses, payroll slips, rent receipts, and any other documents that support your claim. If you have witnesses to the aggrieving action, it is important to provide their full names and methods by which the Commission staff can contact them.
Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Respondent
The Metro Human Relations Commission attempts at all times to protect residents and employers from unfounded charges of discrimination. When a complaint is brought against an individual or organization, you, as a respondent will be given every opportunity to ask questions, provide information, and offer witnesses as well.
As part of the investigation, the MHRC may request access to premises, records and documents relevant to the complaint and has the right to examine, photograph and copy evidence. Your cooperation in an objective investigation can assure you of a fair decision on the complaint.
The Commission strives to find a just resolution toward complaints we receive, but filing a complaint with the MHRC does not stop or stay the time limits for filing a “charge of discrimination” with the EEOC or THRC under certain federal anti-discrimination laws.
Finally, consistent with federal, state, and local nondiscrimination policies, respondents may not act adversely against a person who has filed a complaint or a witness for the complainant, and also may not resist or interfere with Commission staff in their lawful performance of their duty. This kind of treatment is known as "retaliation," and is, itself, prohibited by law.
What to Expect - The Investigation
The Commission staff will seek responses from people named in any complaint and will interview witnesses and others who have been specified by both complainants and respondents. We will also collect supporting documents from all parties to the complaint, and may seek additional clarification of information provided from either the complainant or the respondent to help ensure factual reporting and recording of the circumstance. All parties to the dispute are also invited to provide the Commission with any new information that supports either the claim or the response in as timely a manner as possible.
After studying a written report of the investigation, the Commission may find:
- Probable Cause, and begin a conciliation process, or
- No Probable Cause, and dismiss the complaint.
The Commission holds informal meetings with the respondent and the complainant to work out terms and conditions to eliminate discriminatory practices. If the Commission finds that there is probable cause that an unlawful practice has occurred and is unable to resolve the matter with conciliation, mediation, or persuasion, it will refer the complaint to a review panel for an evidentiary hearing.
The review panel consists of three to five people who will hear the complainant and respondent. Documents are filed as evidence, and testimony under oath is heard. During the hearing, the review panel may find either:
- No discrimination occurred and dismiss the complaint; or
- Discrimination occurred and issues a request that the respondent end the discriminatory practice.
If the review panel finds that no discrimination occurred, the Commission will dismiss the complaint. If the review panel finds that discrimination occurred, the Commission will determine what relief is appropriate..