Testing is the checking of organizations covered by the Iowa Civil Rights Act to determine whether those persons or organizations are acting in accordance with the law. Testing is designed to discover whether persons are being treated differently than other customers because of a protected personal characterisitc such as race, sex, or familial status.
During the year, the Commission greatly expanded its testing program. A total of 182 telephone tests and 25 on-site tests were done. Tests have been conducted in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations, and credit.
Trained volunteers serve as the testers, with
permanent Conunission staff planning and coordinating the tests. Testing
sites may be chosen at random, such as apartments advertised for rent. The
testing team may also be called into action in response to a referral from
the general public about a potential problem. The Commission has used concealed
microphones and tape recorders, but has now purchased additional high-tech
equipment, including camcorders with pinhole lenses, which will increase
the testing options.
The purpose of testing is to check on compliance with the law, and to infonn and educate. Persons or entities who are tested are notifed of the results of the test. If the person or organization "passed" the test they are recognized and congratulated. If the test uncovers shortcomings or potential problems, educational materials and training sessions are offered. Press releases are also issued to infonn the community of the tests and the results.
Complaints are not filed as a result of testing unless the person or organization is completely recalcitrant about correcting their practices to comply with the law.