Harford County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Harford County Council by Bill No. 76-81.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Commission — See Ch. 9, Art. XXVI.
[1]
Editor's Note: This legislation was included as Ch. 14, Art. VI, of the 1978 Code.
[Amended by Bill No. 11-22]
The population of the County consists of persons of all age groups, both sexes and many races, colors, religions, ancestries, national origins, varied appearances and varied disabilities, all of whom should be free to exercise and enjoy all civil and constitutional rights, be assured equal protection of the law, equal treatment and fair treatment of the law and due process of the law with respect to education, housing, administration of justice, employment, public accommodations, government services and other related fields as situations may require, without interference and without discrimination because of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, occupation, marital status, political opinion, personal appearance, mental or physical disability or familial status. The denial of these rights, privileges or freedoms endangers the rights of all citizens, intensifies group conflict, undermines the basic premises of a free society under democracy, adversely affects the general welfare of the entire community and reduces its productive capacity.
A. 
It shall be the function of the County government to foster and encourage the growth and development of the County in a manner that will ensure that all persons shall have an equal opportunity to pursue their lives free of discrimination imposed because of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, age, occupation, marital status, political opinion, personal appearance, mental or physical disability or familial status. Discriminatory practices based upon the foregoing criteria are hereby declared contrary to the public policy of the county.
[Amended by Bill No. 11-22]
B. 
The County government shall direct its efforts and resources toward eliminating discriminatory practices within the County in the areas of housing, employment, administration of justice, education, public accommodations and any other facets of the lives of its citizens where such practices may be found to exist.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
COMMISSION
The Human Relations Commission as established by the Charter.
DISCRIMINATION
Acting or failing to act or unduly delaying any action regarding any person because of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, age (except as required by state or federal law), occupation, marital status, political opinion, personal appearance, physical or mental handicap or familial status in a way that adversely affects or interferes with such person's civil and constitutional rights, equal and fair treatment, due process in the areas of housing, employment, administration of justice, county services, education, public accommodations or other such related areas.
[Amended by Bill No. 11-22]
DWELLING
Any building or structure, or portion thereof, which is designed, intended or arranged for use or occupancy as a home, residence or sleeping place for one (1) or more individuals,
EMPLOYER
Any person engaged in commerce, industry, agriculture or a lawful profession who for compensation has hired or contracted for the services of five (5) or more employees for a total of twenty (20) or more hours in the current or preceding calendar year, or any agent of such person. "Employer" includes the county, a body corporate and politic of the state, to the extent provided in this chapter, and other governmental agencies.
EMPLOYMENT AGENCY
Any person regularly undertaking, with or without compensation, to procure employees for an employer or to procure for employees opportunities to work for an employer, including an agent of such a person, but not including any agency of the federal or state governments.
EQUAL TREATMENT
Includes, but is not limited to, equal protection of the laws or a requirement of applying the same set of standards in a like manner in like instances, situations, occurrences or happenings with respect to the effort on a person's quality of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.
FAMILIAL STATUS
One or more individuals, who have not attained the age of 18 years, being domiciled with:
[Added by Bill No. 11-22]
A. 
A parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or
B. 
The designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person.
The protections afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.
HOUSING
Any dwelling for the use of one (1) or more individuals, groups or families, any mobile home site and any land offered for sale or lease for the construction of such dwelling, building, structure or mobile home site.
HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION COORDINATOR
That person assigned by the County under the guidance of the Human Relations Commission to investigate complaints arising out of a violation of this chapter. The term shall include the word "investigator" and supportive staff of the Coordinator.
LABOR ORGANIZATION
A person or organization which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours or other terms or conditions of employment and any conference, general committee, joint or system board or joint council so engaged which is subordinate to a national or international labor organization.
LENDING INSTITUTION
Any bank, insurance company, savings and loan association or any other person or organization regularly engaged in the business of lending money or guaranteeing loans within the County.
OCCUPATION
The principal lawful activity of one's life. Persons included in this definition are students, welfare recipients, retired persons and all other persons, irrespective of income, who are denied the equal protection of the laws.
PERSONAL APPEARANCE
The outward appearance of any person, irrespective of sex, with regard to hairstyle, beards or manner of dress. Such term shall not relate to the requirement of cleanliness, uniforms or prescribed attire when uniformly applied for admittance to a public accommodation or a class of employees for a customary or reasonable business.
PLACE OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION
Any retail store, inn, hotel, motel or other establishment which provides lodging to transient persons or any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain or other facility at which food or alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises or any gasoline station, motion-picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or place of exhibition or entertainment. Such term shall also include any athletic or recreation facility or any barbershop, beauty salon, health spa or other facility or any medical and health service individual, business or facility which maintains a building or office for providing related services or health care to the public or any educational or training facility and program which provides related services.
POLITICAL OPINION
The opinion of persons relating to government or the conduct of government or related to political parties authorized to participate in primary elections in the state.
RESTRICTIVE COVENANT
Any specification limiting the transfer, rental or lease of any dwelling because of race, color, religion or national origin.
UNLAWFUL PRACTICE
An act of commission or omission which a legislative act has declared unlawful and which the County shall have the power to order to discontinue.
A. 
Unlawful practices generally. It shall be an unlawful practice, because of discrimination, for any person having the right to sell, rent, lease, control, construct or manage any dwelling or for any agent or employee of such person:
(1) 
To refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling.
(2) 
To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith.
(3) 
To make, print or publish, or cause to be made, printed or published, any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination.
(4) 
To represent to any person, for reasons of discrimination, that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available.
(5) 
To deny any person access or membership or participation in any multiple listing service, real estate broker's organization or other service, organization or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, or to discriminate against him in the terms or conditions of such access, membership or participation.
(6) 
To include in any transfer, sale, rental or lease of housing any restrictive covenants that discriminate, or to honor or exercise, or attempt to honor or exercise, any discriminatory covenant pertaining to housing.
B. 
Discriminatory practices involving sale or advertising of property, inducements to purchase, etc. It shall further be an unlawful discriminatory housing practice:
(1) 
For any person, whether or not acting for monetary gain, knowingly to induce or attempt to induce another person to transfer an interest in real property or to discourage another person from purchasing real property by representations regarding the existing or potential proximity of real property owned, used or occupied by persons of any particular race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, personal appearance, political opinion, physical or mental handicap, marital status or familial status or to represent that such existing or potential proximity will or may result in:
[Amended by Bill No. 11-22]
(a) 
The lowering of property values.
(b) 
A change in the racial, religious or ethnic character of the block, neighborhood or area in which the property is located.
(c) 
An increase in criminal or antisocial behavior in the area.
(d) 
A decline in quality of the schools serving the area.
(2) 
For any person to solicit or attempt to solicit the listing of dwellings for sale or lease by door-to-door solicitation, in person, by telephone or by mass distribution of circulars, for the purpose of changing the racial composition of the neighborhood.
(3) 
For any person to place a sign or display any other device which offers for sale, lease, assignment, transfer or other disposition any real property used for the purpose of housing, which sign, display or device is designed to stimulate the belief that a bona fide offer is being made to sell, lease, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of such property when in fact such property is not being offered for the advertised sale, lease, assignment or transfer.
C. 
Restrictive covenants declared void: refusal to accept documents containing covenants. Further:
(1) 
Any restrictive covenant, whether heretofore or hereafter included in an instrument affecting the title to real or leasehold property, is declared to be null, void and of no effect and contrary to the public policy of the county as well as contrary to the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
(2) 
Any person who is asked to accept a document affecting title to real or leasehold property may decline to accept the same, if it includes such a covenant, until the covenant has been removed from the document. Refusal to accept delivery of an instrument for the reason shall not be deemed a breach of a contract to purchase, lease, mortgage or otherwise deal with such property.
D. 
Exemptions. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, from limiting the sale, rental or occupancy of dwellings which it owns or operates, for other than commercial purposes, to persons of the same religion or from giving preferences to such persons. Neither shall anything in this section apply to a private membership club which is a bona fide club and which is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954; nor shall discrimination based on age be unlawful with regard to housing operated in connection with any medical, health or educational institution or with regard to any domiciliary, retirement or senior citizens' home or housing or with regard to any preschool children's home or facility; nor shall discrimination be unlawful with regard to the leasing of a room or apartment in an owner-occupied dwelling consisting of not more than two (2) rental units.
E. 
Unlawful financing practices.
(1) 
It shall be an unlawful practice for any lending institution to deny a loan to a person applying therefor, for purposes including but not limited to the purchase, construction, improvement, repair or maintenance of a dwelling, the establishment or continuance of a business establishment or personal purposes, because of discrimination.
(2) 
It shall also be an unlawful act to discriminate against any person in the fixing of the down payment, interest rate, duration or other terms or conditions of such a loan.
(3) 
It shall be unlawful for the County Treasurer or governmental official whose responsibility it is to account for, invest or manage public funds to deposit or cause to be deposited any public funds in any lending institution defined herein which is found by the county to be unlawfully discriminating provided that such findings are upheld by a court of law. Upon the court's judicial enforcement of any order to restrain a practice of such lending institution or any order for such institution to cease or desist in a discriminatory practice, the county shall notify all persons in charge of public funds in the name of any such lending institution found to be practicing discrimination in the course of providing its customary commercial services. Upon receiving such notification, the appropriate fiscal officer or Treasurer of the county which has funds deposited in any lending institution which is practicing discrimination, as set forth herein, shall take immediate steps to have the funds withdrawn and redeposited in another lending institution. If for reasons of sound economic management this action will result in a financial loss to the county, the action may be deferred for a period not longer than one (1) year. If the lending institution in question corrects its discriminatory practices, any prohibition set forth in this section shall not be applicable.
A. 
It shall be an unlawful employment practice:
(1) 
For any employer in the county to discharge or to refuse to hire any person or act against any person with respect to compensation or other terms and conditions of employment or to limit, segregate, classify or assign employees because of discrimination.
(2) 
For any employment agency in the county to fail or refuse to refer a person for employment or act against any person respecting the kind of employment for which a referral could have been made, or to classify a person for employment because of discrimination.
(3) 
For any labor organization located in the county with respect to the exercise of its functions and activities within the county:
(a) 
To exclude or to expel any person from its membership or otherwise act against any person because of discrimination.
(b) 
To limit, segregate or classify its membership or to fail or refuse to refer for employment any person, in any way which would deprive any person of employment opportunities or would limit such employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee or as an applicant for employment, because of discrimination.
(c) 
To cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an individual in violation of this section.
B. 
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for any employer or any labor organization located or domiciled in the county or any labor organization or joint labor management committee controlling apprenticeships or other training or retraining, including on-the-job training programs, to refuse any person for admission to or employment in any program established to provide apprenticeship or other training, because of discrimination.
C. 
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer, labor organization or employment agency to print or cause to be printed any notice or advertisement relating to employment by such an employer or membership in or any classification or referral for employment by such a labor organization or relating to any classification or referral for employment by such an agency indicating any preference, limitation or specification based upon discrimination, except where such a limitation or specification is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment.
D. 
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees or applicants for employment, for an employment agency to discriminate against any person or for a labor organization to discriminate against any member thereof or applicant for membership because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this section or because he has made a charge or testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under this section.
(1) 
Nothing in this section shall prohibit the hiring, assignment, compensation or discharge of persons by an employer, the classification or referral of persons for employment by an employment agency, the classification of members of a labor organization or the admission to any program of apprenticeship, training or retraining based on discrimination, where it can be demonstrated that it is a bona fide occupational qualification which is reasonable, necessary and relevant to the normal operation of a particular business or enterprise. It shall not be unlawful for a school, college, university or other educational institution to hire and employ persons of a particular religion if such school, college, university or other educational institution is, in whole or in substantial part, owned, supported, controlled or managed by a particular church, synagogue or other religious organization or corporation or if the curriculum of such school, college, university or other educational institution is designed to comply, in whole or in part, with the doctrines or tenets of a particular religion, and it shall not be unlawful for an employer, employment agency or labor organization to observe the terms of a bona fide seniority system or any bona fide employee benefit plan such as a retirement, pension or insurance plan, which is not a subterfuge to evade the purposes of this section, except that no such employee benefit plan shall excuse the failure to hire any person.
(2) 
Nothing contained in this section shall be interpreted to require any employer, employment agency, labor organization or joint labor-management committee subject to this section to grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group because of the race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, occupation, personal appearance, political opinion, marital status, physical or mental handicap or familial status of such person or group on account of an imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of any race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, occupation, personal appearance, political opinion, marital status or physical or mental handicap or familial status employed by an employer, referred or classified for employment by an employment agency or labor organization, admitted to membership or classified by a labor organization or admitted to or employed in any apprenticeship or other training program in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons of such race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, occupation, personal appearance, political opinion, marital status, physical or mental handicap or familal status.
[Amended by Bill No. 11-22]
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any owner or operator of a place of public accommodation located in the county or the agent of any owner or operator of such place of public accommodation to deny to any person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges of such a place of public accommodation because of discrimination.
B. 
This section shall not apply to a private club or similar establishment which is not in fact open to the general public, except with respect to those facilities of such club or related establishment which are made available to customers or patrons of an establishment which is subject to the provisions of this section.
[Amended by Bill No. 76-95]
Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged violation of this chapter may proceed directly with civil or criminal enforcement as provided for by this chapter, or the aggrieved person may file a complaint with the Human Relations Commission Coordinator of the county. If a complaint is so filed, the following procedures shall be utilized:
A. 
Form, contents, etc. Complaints shall be filed on a written complaint form provided by the Coordinator. The complaint shall state the name and address of the complainant and the respondent and such other information as may be required from time to time by the Coordinator. The complaint must be filed within six (6) months after the alleged violation has occurred or was discovered by the complainant. Complaints may be reasonably amended at any time after being filed.
B. 
Investigation, determination and conciliation.
(1) 
After the filing of any complaint, the Coordinator shall consider the complaint and cause it to be promptly investigated, and a copy of the complaint and any amendments thereto shall be served upon the respondent by certified mail within sixty (60) days after it is filed or amended.
(2) 
The results of the investigation shall be made as written findings, and copies of the findings shall be furnished to the parties.
(3) 
If the findings are that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of this chapter has occurred, the Coordinator shall immediately, but not later than thirty (30) days after the date of such findings, attempt to eliminate the violation by conference, conciliation and persuasion. If an agreement is reached for the elimination of the violation, it shall be reduced to a legally enforceable written instrument. If the Coordinator is unable to reach an agreement, the Coordinator shall so certify in writing that conciliation has failed and provide notice of such certification to all parties.
(4) 
If the findings are that there is no reasonable cause to believe that a violation of this chapter has occurred, the Coordinator shall transmit the findings to the parties no later than ten (10) days after the date of such findings.
(5) 
If there is a finding that there is a possible violation of this chapter and conciliation has failed, the Coordinator shall transmit the case to the proper criminal enforcement authority for further action.
If, at any time after a complaint has been filed, the Coordinator reasonably believes that appropriate civil action to preserve the status quo or to prevent irreparable harm is advisable, the Coordinator, represented by the County Attorney, may bring any action necessary to preserve such status quo or to prevent such irreparable harm, including but not limited to an action to obtain a temporary restraining order and for a preliminary injunction.
Any person who willfully falsifies any documents, records or reports that have been subpoenaed pursuant to this chapter or who willfully gives false testimony before any investigator or any court of law or who intimidates any witness, complainant or respondent in any proceeding before any investigator or court of law, upon conviction thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.) or to imprisonment for a period not to exceed six (6) months, or both.
Any person who shall be found to have committed a violation of the provisions of this chapter relating to discriminatory or wrongful practices resulting in damage to the person aggrieved by such discriminatory or wrongful practices shall be liable for the payment to such person aggrieved of a civil penalty recoverable in a civil action.
It shall be unlawful for any person to retaliate or to cause or coerce or attempt to cause or coerce any other person to retaliate against any person because such person has lawfully opposed any act or failure to act that is a violation of this chapter or has, in good faith, filed a complaint, testified, participated or assisted in any way in any proceeding under this chapter. Any person violating this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.) or a sentence of not more than six (6) months in jail, or both.
During the investigation of any complaint alleging a violation of this chapter and until such matters reach the stage of court hearings, the activities of all persons involved in connection with an investigation shall be conducted without publicity, and the investigators and other government employees shall hold confidential any information in relation thereto, including the identity of the complainant and the respondent, except that:
A. 
Any information may be released at any time if the release has been agreed to in writing by both complainant and respondent.
B. 
The identity of the complainant shall be disclosed to the respondent upon request.
C. 
The persons investigating complaints shall cooperate with federal and state agencies.
D. 
Any investigator or other government employee who violates the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more that one thousand dollars ($1,000.) or imprisoned for not more than six (6) months, or both.
The provisions of this chapter shall be construed as vesting in all persons the right to be free of any practices within the county which are prohibited herein. Any person who is aggrieved by an act prohibited herein may bring an appropriate action in law or in equity in the Circuit Court for the county to seek damages, including counsel fees, redress of injury or injunctive relief arising out of any act prohibited herein, in addition to pursuing the procedures and seeking the remedies established herein.
It shall be a misdemeanor for any person to violate any unlawful practice prohibitions of this chapter, and, upon conviction of such violation, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.) or imprisoned for not more than six (6) months, or both.