How to File a Complaint

 If you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of either the Cambridge Human Rights Ordinance or the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance, you may file a complaint with the Commission provided:

  • the act of discrimination occurred within Cambridge;
  • the type of discrimination is covered by the Cambridge Human Rights Ordinance or the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance; and
  • the complaint is filed within 180 days from the last act of discrimination (NOTE: If the last discriminatory act was more than 180 days before the filing of the Compliant, but less than 300 days before, a Complainant should contact the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) to inquire about filing a complaint through that agency]. .

The Commission will assist the Complainant in drafting the Complaint and will give the Respondent an opportunity to respond. The Commission will provide a thorough, impartial investigation of the Complaint which may include witness interviews, site visits, and the collection of relevant documents. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Commission will issue a report explaining its findings. If the Commission finds that it is more likely than not that there was discrimination (Probable Cause), the Commission will attempt conciliation between the parties. If the Commission’s conciliation efforts prove unsuccessful, it will schedule a public hearing at the Commission. The Commission has the authority to provide various remedies after hearing, including filing a criminal complaint in District Court, levying civil fines of up to $300 for each violation, filing a civil complaint in Superior Court seeking injunctive relief, and seeking an award of damages, expenses and other relief in a court of appropriate jurisdiction. If Probable Cause is found in a complaint filed under the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance, either party may opt to remove the case to trial in the Massachusetts Superior Court.

Once you have filed a complaint, you are protected under the discrimination laws against retaliation. There is NO CHARGE for filing a complaint, and it is not necessary to hire an attorney. However, it is your right to have an attorney represent you at your own expense, if you so choose.

The Human Rights Commission does not represent either party during the investigation, they are a neutral party.