Office of Human Rights
Office of Human Rights
The Alexandria Office of Human Rights was established to combat discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect human rights for persons who live, work, or visit in Alexandria.
The Office enforces the Alexandria Human Rights Code (the Code), passed in 1975 as one of the first local human rights laws in Virginia, by receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination under the Code and applicable federal and state laws.
In addition to enforcing the local Code, as a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA) under contract with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office also receives and investigates complaints of employment discrimination filed under federal antidiscrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Office also houses the ADA Program Manager.
Human Rights Code
On March 25, 1975, Alexandria City Council passed one of the first human rights ordinances in Virginia. The Code, which became effective April 21, 1975, prohibited discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, credit, health and social services, education and city contracts on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, or physical handicap.
Throughout the years, a number of changes have expanded the reach of the Code. In 1988, the Code was amended to include sexual orientation as a protected class; in 1991, the Code was amended to include fair housing protection for families with children, and the protection for the "physically handicapped" was expanded to cover all disabilities. Amendments to the Code in 1996 prohibited discriminatory practices in commercial real estate. In 2019, the Code was amended to include gender identity and transgender status as protected classes.
What We Do
Intake and Investigation of Discrimination Claims
The Office receives, investigates, makes findings on and conciliates complaints of discrimination brought under the Code and applicable federal laws, which arise out of employment relationships within the City of Alexandria.
The Office was created in 1975 and later designated as a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA), under contract with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to receive and investigate complaints brought under applicable federal laws.
The Office also investigates allegations of discrimination in Housing and Commercial Real Estate, Public Accommodations, Health and Social Services, Education, City Contracts, and Credit.
Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission has the power to receive and mediate complaints alleging unlawful discrimination, negotiate settlements, conduct studies and hold hearings, and advise the City Council or City Manager on human rights issues affecting the City. The Human Rights Director serves as the staff liaison to the Human Rights Commission and works closely with the Commission in implementing and carrying out its programs. The Office provides the Commission with resources that enable it to address a wide range of issues that impact residents of, and visitors to, Alexandria.
The Commission has 14 members, each appointed by City Council. Nine members are "at large"; the remaining five each represent the Commission on Aging, the Economics Opportunities Commission, the Commission on Persons with Disabilities, and the Commission for Women and the Landlord Tenant Relations Board.
Learn more about the Human Rights Commission.
ADA Program Manager and Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities (ACPD)
The Office of Human Rights houses the ADA Program Manager, who addresses the rights of persons with disabilities and their advocacy efforts; conducts legal research and analysis and interprets the impact of disability-related laws and rulings on persons with disabilities; educates the public on the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act; and refers persons with disabilities to appropriate local, state, and federal community and legal resources. The ADA Program Manager also advises City departments on compliance issues, reviews plans, and conducts site visits.
The Office also staffs the Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities (ACPD). The ACPD is a 17 member volunteer resident at large body appointed by the Mayor and City Council to provide advice to the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager on policies, programs, and legislation affecting Alexandria's residents with physical and sensory disabilities.
Learn more about the ACPD.
Community Outreach and Education
The Office of Human Rights is proud to serve as a community resource by providing information and training about rights and responsibilities under the City Code and other anti-discrimination laws. The Office conducts a wide range of outreach and education initiatives to foster open dialogue about important community and human rights issues.
Resolutions Condemning Hate
In March 2021, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning hate, scapegoating and violence directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The resolution affirms the City of Alexandria’s commitment to actively combating racism, achieving racial and social equity, and protecting its vulnerable residents.
City Council’s resolution also reflects the City’s “ALL Alexandria” commitment, which centers on race and how it intersects with other areas of inequity. This includes all races, religions, countries of origin, sexual orientations, ages, genders and abilities. The goal of ALL Alexandria is to reduce and eliminate disparities and inequities experienced by all people, especially those in communities of color and other groups who have been historically and systemically marginalized.
Persons who believe they have been victims of a hate crime or have witnessed a hate crime are encouraged to contact the Office of Human Rights at 703.746.3140 for assistance.
Calendar of Events
The Office provides staff support to two commissions: the Alexandria Human Rights Commission and the Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities. Click the links to learn more.