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Civil Rights

Civil Rights Enforcement

The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to the aggressive enforcement of federal civil rights laws in Maryland. With limited exceptions, the U.S. Attorney's Office represents the United States of America, not any specific individual.

Civil Rights Unit

The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland utilizes criminal and civil statutes to protect the civil and constitutional rights of all Maryland residents, including the most vulnerable members of our communities.

The Civil Rights Unit enforces federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, familial status and citizenship.  To achieve this objective, attorneys in the Office’s Civil and Criminal divisions work together and with federal, state and local partners to investigate and bring civil rights cases affecting Maryland residents.

Specifically, the Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland:

•investigates and prosecutes violations of criminal civil rights statutes, including hate crimes and violations made under color of law;

•employs civil statutes to enforce civil rights and address patterns or practices of discrimination in housing, education, and employment, among other areas;

•protects the civil rights of service members;

•conducts outreach to public sector, private sector and not-for-profit entities and community-advocacy organizations;

•develops working relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement in Maryland focused on enforcing civil rights;

•coordinates with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security section on allegations and investigations related to domestic terrorism to ensure that civil rights statutes – including those related to hate crimes and racially motivated offenses – are considered and employed as necessary;

•assists county and municipal jurisdictions in Maryland with identifying and seeking grants and funding opportunities administered by the Department of Justice;

•facilitates the collection of data in Maryland on allegations of civil rights violations; and

•partners and coordinates with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.



In addition to investigating and prosecuting violations of federal civil rights laws, the Civil Rights Unit also conducts outreach with and training for advocates, state and local agencies, law enforcement, and community members throughout Maryland. The Civil Rights Unit’s outreach efforts are aimed at engaging with the public to identify and redress civil rights violations; its training efforts are designed to proactively educate people on their rights and obligations under the law to prevent a civil rights violation from happening in the first place.

To Report a Civil Rights Violation

Criminal civil rights matters (such as causing or attempting to cause injury because of the victim’s race, color, gender or sexual orientation) are generally investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) before being referred to us for litigation.  To report a criminal civil rights matter, contact your local FBI office.  You may also file a criminal complaint directly to the Department of Justice Action Center at:

To report a non-criminal civil rights matter (such as housing discrimination based on race), please fill out a Civil Rights Complaint Form.  Completed forms should be emailed to

Please be aware that while the scope of our civil rights practice is broad, our authority to investigate and seek relief for individual complaining parties for alleged civil rights violations is limited. We can only investigate and seek to remedy alleged discriminatory conduct when authorized by a specific statute and in the manner proscribed by that statute. In some instances, this means that we can only investigate and seek to remedy patterns of unlawful discriminatory conduct, not individual incidents. 

External Resources

Many civil rights claims must be investigated first by another federal agency before being referred to us for litigation.  For additional resources, please visit:

Updated September 1, 2021

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