To file a complaint, use either the online form or print and mail thisComplaint Form
A. Complaint Submission; Confidentiality
- If a person believes they have suffered from prohibited discrimination by a unit or office of MDNR, they may submit a complaint to the Department's Nondiscrimination Coordinator. A complaint may, but need not, be prepared using the Department's Non-Employment Discrimination Grievance Form.
- In order to be considered for formal processing and decision under Section C, below, a complaint must:
a. Include the following information:
(i) Name, address and telephone number of the person making the complaint;
(ii) Names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses;
(iii) A narrative or statement describing the alleged discriminatory act, omission, or condition, including date and time of the alleged violation; and
(iv) Any other documentation that may provide any additional explanation or identification of the alleged violation.
b. Be in writing, although alternative means of filing complaints, such as personal interviews or a recording of the complaint, will be made available for persons upon request.
c. Be submitted no later than 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the DNR waives the time limit for good cause.
- Confidentiality: The identity of complainants and witnesses shall be kept confidential except to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of the civil rights laws, or unless disclosure is required under the Maryland Public Information Act, the Maryland Privacy Act or otherwise required by law.
B. Informal Resolution
- A person who believes they have suffered from prohibited discrimination by a unit or office of MDNR may contact the Department's Nondiscrimination Coordinator to seek informal resolution regardless of whether a formal complaint has been filed and, if a complaint has been filed, at any point before the issuance of a closure letter or letter of finding.
- The Nondiscrimination Coordinator may interview the complainant, appropriate DNR personnel familiar with the facts, and the Director of the DNR unit or office alleged to have engaged in discrimination to assess whether the allegations might be resolved informally. If so, the Nondiscrimination Coordinator may recommend that the parties attempt informal resolution.
- The Nondiscrimination Coordinator may assist the parties in reaching an informal resolution by facilitating a meeting of the parties, providing information about alternative dispute resolution resources, or otherwise. DNR may, but is not obligated to, provide a mediator or trained neutral.
- The informal resolution agreement shall be reduced to writing and shall describe'the alleged discrimination and any corrective action to which the parties have agreed. Any informal resolution agreement shall be reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General for form and legal sufficiency and executed by the complainant and the Secretary or the Secretary's designee(s). A copy of the agreement shall be provided to the complainant.
C. Formal Complaint Processing
- Acknowledgement: The Nondiscrimination Coordinator will notify the complainant and the Director of the unit or office complained against or their designee of the Department's receipt of the complaint within five (5) business days of receipt.
- Initial Review:
a. DNR will review the complaint for acceptance or rejection. The Department may reject a complaint that:
i. was not timely filed;
ii. consists of an allegation identical to one contained in another complaint filed by the complainant(s) which is pending in the Department or which has been resolved or decided by the Department;
iii. consists of allegations that, even if established, would not support a finding of unlawful discrimination by the Department;
iv. lacks specificity and detail necessary to determine whether the allegations, if established, would support a finding of unlawful discrimination by the Department;
v. was not submitted in writing or by acceptable alternative means.
b. Within twenty (20) calendar days of acknowledgment of the complaint, the DNR will notify the complainant and the Director of the unit or office complained against in writing of the acceptance or rejection of the complaint for investigation. If the complaint is rejected, this notification shall identify the reason(s) for the rejection and, as appropriate, identify any other department or agency to which the complaint might more aptly be addressed.
a. If the complaint is accepted, DNR will provide the Director of the recipient unit or office complained against or their designee an opportunity to make a written submission responding to, rebutting, or denying the allegations raised in the complaint.
b. The recipient unit or office of MDNR shall provide the Nondiscrimination Coordinator any response to the complaint in writing within thirty (30) calendar of receiving it.
c. In furtherance of the investigation, the Nondiscrimination Coordinator may schedule an interview with the complainant, appropriate DNR personnel, and anyone else familiar with the facts associated with the alleged discrimination.
a. If a complaint submitted under this section is resolved through informal resolution agreement, the agreement shall be made part of the complaint file.
b. If the complaint has not been resolved by informal resolution agreement, after the investigation is completed, the complaint will be evaluated upon the evidence gathered through the investigation.
c. If the Department determines the alleged violations are not supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the Department shall issue a Closure Letter. A Closure Letter summarizes the allegations, and states that a violation of applicable nondiscrimination laws could not be established and that the case will be closed.
d. If the Department finds that the alleged violations are supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the Department shall issue a letter of finding (LOF). An LOF summarizes the allegations regarding the alleged incident, identifies each violation of applicable antidiscrimination law supported by the evidence, describes any corrective action(s) to be taken, and provides the timeframe in which those actions should be completed.
e. The Department will endeavor to finalize any informal resolution or issue any closure letter or letter of finding within 120 days of submission the complaint.
D. Monitoring and Closure
The Nondiscrimination Coordinator shall monitor implementation of corrective actions and other obligations under any LOF or informal resolution agreement, and shall notify the affected DNR office or unit and the complainant when the actions have been completed and the complaint file closed.
Retaliation is prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 40 CFR§7.100 and related federal and state nondiscrimination authorities. It is the policy of the MDNR that persons filing a grievance of discrimination or participating in any investigation of allegations of discrimination should have the right to do so without interference, intimidation, coercion or fear of reprisal. Anyone who feels they have been subjected to retaliation should report such incident to the Nondiscrimination Coordinator.
Paulette Walker Director – Office of Fair Practice