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File a Discrimination Complaint

Human Rights Commission

If you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of either the Cambridge Human Rights Ordinance, chapter 2.76, or the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance, chapter 14.04, you may file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

Contact the Human Rights Commission at 617-349-4396 or email hrc@cambridgema.gov.

You may also submit an intake form online. The online form is available in the following languages:

Spanish | Arabic | Amharic | Haitian Kreyol | Bengali | Chinese | Somali | Portuguese

Additional Information

The Human Rights Commission will determine if the complaint falls within its jurisdiction. Next, the Commission’s attorney investigator will meet with you, the Complainant, to assist in drafting the complaint. The Commission will serve a copy of the complaint on the Respondent(s) so that they have an opportunity to respond. The Human Rights Commission does not represent either party during the investigation; it is a neutral party.

How does it benefit me to file a complaint?

  • Very often, complaints filed with the Commission result in mutually-agreeable settlements even before an investigation is completed. Investigations can also result in "compensable remedies" for injuries sustained from an act of discrimination. 

How soon do I have to file the complaint after I was discriminated against?

All complaints of discrimination under the Cambridge Human Rights Ordinance and the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance must be filed within 180 days of the occurrence of the last act of discrimination. If the last discriminatory act or occurrence was more than 180 days before the filing of the complaint, but less than 300 days earlier, the Complainant should contact the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). 

What preliminary information do I need to provide the Commission in filing my complaint?

At the intake meeting, you should be able to provide the Commission investigator with the following information:

  • Your name, work and home addresses, and work and home phone numbers
  • Names, work addresses, and work phone numbers of the people or entities you believe discriminated against you
  •  A concise chronology of discriminatory incidents that you believe occurred, with approximate dates
  • A list of names and phone numbers of witnesses, if known
  • If you have documents relevant to your complaint, be sure to keep them in a safe place, as you will be asked to submit them during the investigation 

May I file my complaint anonymously?

Yes, if "public interest" requires the use of a pseudonym. Factors used by the Commission in determining whether public interest would be served by allowing the Complainant to proceed under a pseudonym are:

  • The potential physical danger to the Complainant if his or her identity is disclosed to the  Respondent and/or its agent, and
  • The privacy interests of the Complainant. 

What if the Respondent (the employer, the landlord, etc.) retaliates against me for filing the complaint?

  • Reprisal against Complainants or witnesses in a civil rights investigation is also a civil rights violation. A complaint alleging reprisal is considered on its own merit, whether or not the original complaint is upheld. 

Page was last modified on 7/24/2023 8:10 PM
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