Ohio Civil Rights Commission educates during Canton visit

CANTON − Officials with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission told residents at a town hall meeting what kind of discrimination complaints they investigate and how they respond to them.

State Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton, invited the commission staff to make a stop in Canton Thursday night to speak with the public as part of the commission’s campaign to inform the public about their mission. The town hall meeting at the Metropolitan Event Centre at 601 Cleveland Ave. NW drew about a dozen residents.

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Angela Phelps-White, executive director of the commission, said the commission has been around since the Ohio Legislature created it in 1959. It’s not an advocacy organization. It’s supposed to be a neutral body whose staff investigates discrimination that’s illegal under Ohio law. and promotes “positive human relations.”

Ohio Civil Rights Commission educates during Canton visit

Phelps-White said the commission investigates claims of discrimination based of race, age, religion, national origin or veteran status in employment, public accommodation, housing, the issuance of credit such as for a loan and on the basis of disability for higher education.

The commission has a central office in Columbus. It has regional offices in Dayton, Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron.

Ohio Civil Rights Commission process

Darlene Sweeney-Newburg, the commission’s director of regional operations, talked about what the commission does once it receives a discrimination complaint. Because of their neutral role, staffers can’t give legal advice or give answers about hypothetical situations or publicly talk about pending cases until there’s a ruling.