The Commission seeks to eliminate discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, genetic information, physical or mental disability, and age. Maryland anti-discrimination statutes for housing, employment, and public accommodations are administered and enforced by the Commission. It also initiates and investigates complaints of discrimination in State government agencies.
The Commission on Civil Rights originated in 1927 as the Interracial Commission (Chapter 559, Acts of 1927). In 1943, it became the Commission to Study Problems Affecting the Colored Population (Chapter 431, Acts of 1943). Renamed the Commission on Interracial Problems and Relations in 1951, it reorganized as the Commission on Civil Rights in 1969 (Chapter 548, Acts of 1951; Chapter 83, Acts of 1968).
To evaluate the merits of a complaint, the Commission may conduct public hearings, administer oaths, and issue subpoenas. It also is authorized to compel attendance or testimony of witnesses and oversee exhibits of books, papers, records, and documents relevant or necessary for legal proceedings.
In addition to other relief, the Commission can issue a cease and desist order if evidence shows that a respondent has engaged in a discriminatory act. In cases of employment discrimination, it may award up to two years of back pay.
Commission work for fair employment practices is supplemented by a deferral relationship and funding from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Similarly, through cooperative agreements, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds case processing and community education for the Commission's fair housing efforts.
Nine members constitute the Commission. They are appointed to six-year terms by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. The Governor names the Executive Director (Title 20, State Government Article, Annotated Code of Maryland).