The Commission works with businesses, community groups and individuals to facilitate understanding of rights and responsibilities; advises City Council and the City Manager on human rights issues; and holds public hearings on specific complaints.
The Commission has fourteen 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.
The Human Rights Administrator 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 proactively address a wide range of issues that impact residents of, and visitors to, Alexandria.
A number of amendments to the Human Rights Ordinance relate specifically to the Commission’s role in combating discrimination in Alexandria. Amendments in 1994 permit the Commission to hold Predetermination Conferences and confidential advisory hearings, which are overseen by a panel of three commissioners. In 1996, additional changes to the Code clarified the powers and duties of the Commission. For example, a civil penalties clause was added to the Ordinance, which affords the Commission the power to recommend the imposition of a $5,000 fine against any person found to have violated any section of the Human Rights Code. This recommendation is made to the City Manager, following a public hearing.
The Human Rights Commission periodically raises issues of concern to the Office of Human Rights. After researching such issues, the Office reports back to the Commission. Together, they formulate an appropriate response, frequently through large-scale community outreach and education efforts. As part of such efforts in the past few years, the Office has contacted hair salons and dry cleaners in Alexandria to ensure gender-neutral pricing; the Office has also assessed and promoted gas station compliance with the refueling assistance provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Currently, the Commission and Office are gathering information on the potentially discriminatory impact of vehicle financing within the City. Because the Commission and the Office strive to respond to issues impacting Alexandrians and visitors to Alexandria, we encourage you to report potential human rights issues to the Human Rights Director so that they can be brought to the Commission’s attention.
The Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month, in City Hall, Room 2000. The meetings are open to the community, and citizens are encouraged to attend.
For further information about the responsibilities of this board or commission, or to apply to serve on this board or commission, contact the City Clerk's Office at 703.746.4550.