Ohio Cut Funding, Eliminated More than Half Its Civil Rights
Enforcement Staff since 2000
Although hate crimes are on
the rise and more Ohioans are filing civil rights
complaints, two decades of funding cuts have reduced
enforcement capacity at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC)
to meet rising demands, according to a new report from
Policy Matters Ohio.
Since 2000, state
policymakers cut funding for the OCRC by $1.4 million in
today’s dollars, nearly 20 percent. Today OCRC has a staff
of 80, compared to 199 in 2000, a loss of more than half the
staff. A regional office was closed and the agency had to
curtail education and outreach.
OCRC staff are working in an
increasingly demanding environment. Between 2016 and 2018,
the number of cases filed with the OCRC rose by 27 percent.
The #MeToo movement brought more sexual harassment victims
forward. Sexual harassment cases filed with the agency rose
by 41 percent between 2016 and 2018. The agency has become
more efficient, as investigative staff averaged 94 completed
investigations per staffer, an 8 percent increase over 2016.
“Whether they are black,
white or brown, and whatever their gender, all Ohioans
deserve fair treatment,” said report author Wendy Patton.
“We all deserve protection from discrimination and
Federal policies are making
it more difficult for victims of harassment and
discrimination to seek redress. The Trump Administration now
allows federal contractors to force workers to resolve
sexual harassment and discrimination through arbitration,
which keeps the claims secret. The administration also
weakened sexual harassment enforcement on campuses.
“The state must safeguard
the civil rights of all Ohioans in an era of increasing
tension and decreased protection,” Patton said.
“Policymakers have a chance to restore funding to the Ohio
Civil Rights Commission in the 2020-2021 state budget and
ensure all Ohioans have recourse from discrimination.”