Types of Complaints | Protected classes | Legal Requirements | Outside of Madison | Police or Judicial


If you believe you have been discriminated against you may be able to file one of the below types of complaints with the City of Madison Equal Opportunities Division (EOD). 

Types of complaints:

  • Housing: a residence or place people live. We take cases that involve selling or renting, as well as those involving mobile homes.
  • Employment: We accept complaints from all job applicants, as well as full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees. We also accept cases that involve employment agencies and labor unions. We do not accept cases that involving an independent contractor relationship.
  • Public accommodations: Include places and services open to the public, and it includes places where goods and services are either free or available for a cost. For example, places of public accommodations include clinics, malls, movie theaters, barber shops, motels, restaurants, and taverns.
  • City Facilities: We accept complaints involving property that is owned by the City of Madison or services that it provides.

The complaint must meet certain criteria (establish prima facie): 


If you have a complaint in one of the above areas, the act of discrimination must have occurred within the City of Madison. 

Length of Time Between the Incident and Filing the Complaint

For housing discrimination complaints:

You must file a complaint within 365 days from the latest/most recent discriminatory incident, unless the complaint involves discrimination of an ongoing nature, (for example, your landlord has been charging you a higher rent than other tenants every month for over a year).

For all other complaints:

You must file the complaint within 300 days from the latest/most recent discriminatory incident, unless the discriminatory act is of an ongoing nature

Membership in a Protected Class


You must  belong to ( or be associated with) at least one of the protected classes identified in the Equal Opportunities Ordinance below.  

Legal Requirements under the Equal Opportunities Ordinance

You must:

1. Belong to (or be associated with) at least one of the protected classes identified in the Equal Opportunities Ordinance.

  • sex
  • age (over 18)
  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • non-religion
  • arrest record (employment/public accommodations only)
  • conviction record (employment/public accommodations only)
  • marital status
  • student status
  • homelessness
  • national origin or ancestry
  • physical appearance
  • disability
  • sexual orientation
  • political beliefs
  • source of income
  • receipt of rental assistance
  • retaliation
  • less than honorable discharge from the military
  • refusal to disclose social security number
  • familial status
  • domestic partners
  • gender identity
  • genetic identity
  • citizenship status
  • victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking (housing only)
  • credit history (employment only)
  • unemployment
  • building code complainant (housing only)
2. Demonstrate that the negative action or unfair treatment you are reporting occurred because of your membership in a protected class or because of your association with someone belonging to a protected class. It is important that you can demonstrate that the business or entity that you file a complaint against treated you unfairly because of your membership in a protected class and not for another reason.

What if the Act of Discrimination occurred outside the City of Madison?

While we do not have jurisdiction over Dane County agencies, MATC, the University of Wisconsin entities, or the State of Wisconsin, you may still file your complaint with the City of Madison – Equal Opportunities Division. We will review your complaint, open a case, and transfer it to the State of Wisconsin – Equal Rights Division (ERD) for further review and processing. To file a complaint directly with ERD regarding these groups, please feel free to contact ERD at (608)266-6860 or go to their online complaint portal.

Where do I go for help with police or judicial matters?

We cannot accept complaints for any police or judicial matters. Please contact the Department of Justice at (608)266-1221 or your local Police & Fire Commission to file a complaint for any police matters. Please contact the Wisconsin Judicial Commission at (608)266-7637 for any judicial matters.