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Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement / Community Relations Commission / History

In 1956 the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore enacted Ordinance 379, creating the Baltimore Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Article 4 of the Baltimore City Code. Its job was to enforce new laws that defined and ruled against discriminatory employment practices by employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations on the basis of an individual's race, color religion, national origin or ancestry. Not covered by the law were tax exempt employers, such as fraternal, charitable, religious, and private educational organizations.

In 1960-61, Ordinance 379 was amended to provide enforcement powers so the Commission would have the authority to issue subpoenas for witnesses and employers' documents. In June of 1962, the City Council passed a limited public accommodation ordinance, which outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants and inns, and other public areas such as airports. The law exempted however; (1) restaurants that profited more from the sale of alcoholic beverages than from food; and (2) parts of a restaurant primarily devoted to the sale of alcoholic beverages. This Ordinance also changed the name of the Commission to the Baltimore Equal Opportunity Commission.

On February 26, 1964, Ordinance 103 - one of the most comprehensive civil rights bills passed by a city - was passed and signed. The ordinance covered unlawful discrimination in employment, public accommodations, public and private education, and public and private health and welfare agencies and institutions. It eliminated the exemptions regarding restaurants selling alcoholic beverages and provided compensation to individuals who were discriminated against. Also, the ordinance broadened the Commission's jurisdiction and authority by; (1) making it responsible for all matters in the area of intergroup relations and; (2) giving it power to take action and hold public hearings. The ordinance changed the Commission's name to the Baltimore Community Relations Commission.

Article IV was further amended in 1971 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in all areas covered by Ordinance 103. Soon thereafter, a prohibition against age discrimination in employment was added to the law. In 1975 Article IV was amended to prohibit discrimination based on physical and mental disability, and in 1988 sexual orientation. In 1990, the law was amended to prohibit discrimination in the area of housing.


Kisha A. Brown
7 E. Redwood Street, 9th floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 396-3141
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