FY95 was a record-setting year for the Commission: a record
number of new complaints, a record number of case resolutions,
a record number and dollar amount of settlements. Commission staff
and volunteers continue to work harder and smarter to successfully
handle their burgeoning work load.
This year the Commission received 2,274 newly-filed
complaints, a 10% increase from last year. Employment continued
to be the largest area, accounting for 83.9% of the complaints.
Sex and disability were the most frequently alleged bases for
discrimination, accounting for 36.5% and 35.5% respectively. Race
at 29.6% and age at 15.7% remained close to last year's levels.
Retaliation, that is adverse action happening to a person because
of filing a complaint or opposing a discriminatory practice, rose
to 12.2% this year from 10.5% last year.
It is noteworthy that while race discrimination was alleged
in 29.6% of the total number of complaints, in housing complaints
race discrimination rose to 41.4%. The most frequently alleged
basis in housing complaints was familial status at 42%. Although
disability discrimination was alleged in 35.5% of all complaints,
it accounted for only 8% of housing complaints.
Discharge or termination continued to be the most frequently
alleged discriminatory incident in employment complaints at 24.6%;
while failure to rent was the most frequently alleged discriminatory
incident in housing complaints at 45.9% Sexual harassment complaints
rose to 8.8% of complaints, compared to 5.5% last year.
Case resolutions rose to 2,434 for this fiscal year.
This was the second year in a row that more cases were resolved
than were filed, resulting in significant inroads in resolving
backlog cases. At the end of the fiscal year, there were 299 investigation-ready
but unassigned cases in the backlog, down from 514 at the end
of the previous year.
Annualized benefits, monies paid to Complainants as a result
of settlement agreements or final agency decisions, reached a
record-setting $1,378,000 during this fiscal year. The total figure
would actually be higher, as some settlements are confidential
and the Commission is not informed of the settlement terms. Settlement
awards, however, are a double-edge sword. While it is admirable
that the agency has been able to settle a large number of cases
for significant amounts of money, this also means that there is
too much discrimination, actual or perceived, taking place in
Complaints Filed: Five Year Comparison
Complaints Filed by Area
Complaints Filed by Basis
The additional bases (creed, marital status, religion, and
color) accounted for less that 1% each of the total complaints
filed. Many complaints are filed under more than one basis, such
as race and sex, sex and age, or age and disability.
Complaints Filed by Alleged Discriminatory Incident (Employment)
|Terms and Conditions||11.0|
Other incidents such as benefits, early retirement, training,
recall and union representation, accounted for less than 1% each.
Complaints Filed by Respondent Type (Employment Complaints)
|Public School (Elem./Secon.)||2.3|
Other respondents, such as private schools, employment agencies,
and unions, accounted for less than 1% each.
Complaints Filed by County (Top Ten)
Complaints Filed by Agency
|Iowa Civil Rights Commission||1651|
|Des Moines Human Rights Commission||112|
|Equal Employment Opportunity Commission||111|
|Davenport Civil Rights Commission||96|
|Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission||95|
|Waterloo Human Rights Commission||66|
|Mason City Human Rights Commission||65|
|Iowa City Human Rights Commission||44|
|Dubuque Human Rights Commission||31|
|Sioux City Human Rights Commission||21|
|Council Bluffs Human Relations Comm.||11|
|Ft. Dodge Human Rights Commission||8|
|Cedar Falls Human Rights Commission||7|
|Housing & Urban Development||3|
|Ames Human Rights Commission||1|
Analysis of Determinations
In FY 95, there was a total of 2,434 case resolutions;
529 of these resolutions came from local commissions.
|Noticed for Public Hearing||17|
|Admin. Closure/Local Commissions||236|
Case Resolution: Five Year Comparison
Annualized Benefits: Five Year Comparison
Volunteers have continued to be an integral part of our staff.
Volunteer attorneys have become the main resource for settlement
of complaints through mediation. Local educational institutions
have provided a solid corps of interns to work on special projects
according to their fields of study. Volunteers have assisted with
investigations, have done legal research and review of cases,
and have served as volunteer testers.
Cooperative work agreements with local civil rights/human rights commissions around the state have also been an incentive to complete case investigations and resolutions. All of the commissions with paid staff, except one, have entered into agreements with the commission that provide payment to them for completed work on cross-filed complaints submitted to the Commission.
Contested Case Decisions
During FY95, three proposed decisions from administrative public
hearings were considered and voted on by the Iowa Civil Rights
On August 23, 1994, a final decision was issued in the case
of Stacey D. Davies and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. Nissen
Company, Subhash Sahai, M.D., and Webster City Medical Clinic.
Complainant Davies was not hired as a production line worker with
the Nissen Company because of her pregnancy, based on the recommendation
of Dr. Sahai of the Webster City Medical Clinic. Because this
action was not justified by proof that non-pregnancy was a bona
fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for the position, this
constituted illegal sex discrimination. While a pregnant female
applicant may be informed of any special risks to her inherent
in a position, it is for her, and not the employer or its agents,
to determine if she wishes to take those risks. Davies was awarded
$2,732.99 in back pay and $8,500.00 in damages for emotional distress.
Hearing costs were also assessed against Nissen Company, Dr. Sahai,
and the Clinic.
A petition for judicial review of the Commission's decision
was filed by Dr. Sahai and the Clinic. Nissen did not actively
participate due to bankruptcy proceedings. On August 28, 1995,
the District Court for Hamilton County affirmed the final order
of the Commission, and found that Dr. Sahai and the Clinic were
liable for sex discrimination. Even though they were not the employers
of Davies, they controlled her access to employment. Dr. Sahai
and the Clinic have filed an appeal to this decision.
On October 28, 1994, the Commission issued a final decision
in the case of Connie Zesch-Luense and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission
v. The Chicken House and Robert Pliley. The Commission found that
race discrimination in public accommodations, the aiding or abetting
of such race discrimination, and retaliation for lawfully opposing
race discrimination had occurred. Zesch-Luense alleged that Pliley
asked her to tell a Native American customer that she would no
longer serve him drinks, because Pliley did not want Blacks and
Indians in his bar. When Zesch-Luense refused to so inform the
customer, Pliley terminated her employment. Remedies awarded to
Zesch-Luense included $1,137.50 in back pay and emotional distress
damages of $10,000. (The Commission increased the damages for
emotional distress from a recommended $2,000.) Pliley is to cease
and desist from further discrimination, is to post a notice of
non-discrimination in public accommodations, and was assessed
On February 27, 1995, the Commission issued a final decision finding that the City of Des Moines had committed sex discrimination in employment in the case of Sandra Whaley and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. the City of Des Moines, Iowa. Whaley alleged that the City failed to hire her for an open position as Recreation Supervisor because of her sex. The allegations of sex discrimination were proved through both direct and circumstantial evidence, including statements by the former Superintendent of Recreation that he wanted to hire a male for this position because of safety concerns at the community centers involved.
Remedies awarded included a cease and desist order, implementation of a written policy to prevent inappropriate use of safety concerns in hiring, posting of notices, $18,789.72 in back pay, $5,522.75 in deferred compensation, $10,000 in emotional distress damages, and front pay and front deferred compensation. The City of Des Moines has filed an appeal in Polk County District Court.