Enforcement Powers: Case Processing
The enforcement powers of the Commission
are concentrated on the processing of complaints filed by individuals who
allege that they have been discriminated against in the areas covered
by the Iowa Civil Rights Act. The Commission is empowered under Iowa
Code, Section 601A.5(2), "(t)o receive, investigate, and finally
determine the merits of complaints alleging unfair or discriminatory
The Compliance Division is responsible for the
processing of complaints, and throughout the fiscal year was able to make
inroads in the number of cases awaiting action. A drop in the number of
complaints filed and an increase in the number of cases closed allowed
the Commission to keep abreast of the flow of complaints and to decrease
the number of complaints in the inventory.
A detailed flowchart of the entire case processing system is shown on page 29 [see complaint process]. In brief, the steps can be summed up as follows:
receiving and docketing of jurisdictional complaints. In complaints filed
directly with the Commission, the individual is assisted by an intake officer
in drafting the complaint and in completing the jurisdictional filing process.
Complaints received from other agencies undergo jurisdictional review and
then proceed directly to docketing.
review of information submitted by Complainant and Respondent to determine
if further investigation is warranted. The parties to the complaint respond
to questionnaires from the Commission and have an opportunity to submit
any additional information they wish. If the decision is made that further
investigation is not warranted, the Complainant can request reconsideration
upon submission of additional relevant information. The Complainant is also
informed of the option of requesting a Right to Sue to pursue a private
action in court.
further investigation is warranted, the case will be assigned to the
appropriate investigative unit. The investigator, a neutral fact-finder,
interviews Complainant, Respondent and witnesses, and gathers and
analyzes relevant documents. The investigator may make an on-site investigation
if necessary; otherwise, tape-recorded telephone interviews are completed.
The investigator writes a case summary and makes a recommended finding.
Finding by Internal Administrative Law Judge: the administrative law judge reviews the case file
and issues a finding of Probable Cause or No Probable Cause. In the case
of a No Probable Cause decision, the Complainant has the right to request
reconsideration by the Commission upon submission of additional information,
or to seek judicial review through the courts.
Conciliation: following a Probable Cause finding, an attempt is made to resolve the complaint with appropriate remedies for the Complainant and the Commission. Upon agreement by the parties and the Commission, a written settlement agreement is completed and the case is closed. The Commission monitors compliance with the settlement terms.
Public Hearing and Final Commission Decision:
if conciliation fails, the case is reviewed
to determine if it is litigation worthy. If so, the case will proceed
to a public hearing. An assistant attorney general represents the Commission
and the Complaint at hearing. The external Administrative Law Judge presides
at the hearing, and issues a proposed decision. The decision becomes final
upon the vote of the seven-member Commission. An adverse decision may be
appealed through the courts by either party. If the case is found
not to be litigation-worthy, the case is administratively closed and the
Complainant has the option to receive a right-to-sue letter and proceed
Case Processing Changes and Innovations:
During the fiscal year, the Commission
continued to use a streamlined intake system in which complaints
which were clearly nonjurisdictional were not accepted by the intake officer.
In September 1989, the investigative units were reorganized, with
investigative units assigned to work on backlog cases, newly-filed cases,
age/ ADEA cases, and housing/HUD cases. Investigators were able to reduce
the backlog to fewer than 250 cases by the end of the fiscal year.
This is the lowest that the inventory has been in eight years.
A separate work unit was assigned responsibilities for conciliation, public information, educational programs, and staff training. In April 1990, a series of Professional Development Seminars was begun, presenting topics which would enhance the personal and professional skills of
A system for monitoring compliance with conciliation
and pre-determination settlement agreements was instituted. Each agreement
will be tracked to be sure that terms are complied with, and follow-up action
to obtain compliance will be taken by a staff conciliator when necessary.
If voluntary compliance is not effected, the matter will be referred to
an Assistant Attorney General for enforcement action.
The Year's Work
As it has for the last four years, the number
of new complaints filed was less than the previous
year. In FY 90 there was a drop of 17%.
There were few surprises in the types of complaints filed. Employment continued to be the largest area of complaints; discharge, failure to hire, general harassment and terms and conditions were the most frequently alleged causes of action. Sex, Race, Age and Physical Disability were the most frequently alleged bases. Service Private Employer was the most frequently named Respondent type.
|Perceived Physical Disability||30||2.3|
|Race by Association||7||<1|
|Perceived Mental Disability||1||<1|
|Cause of Action||#||%|
|Constructive Discharge||62||4.0 (5)|
|Fail to Accommodate||48||3.1|
|Fail to Hire||116||7.5 (3)|
|Fail to Serve||19||1.2|
|General Harassment||108||6.9 (4)|
|Reduction in Hours||19||1.2|
|Reduction in Pay||9||<1|
|Refuse to Assign||1||<1|
|Refuse to Enter Agreement||2||<1|
|Refuse to Lease||2||<1|
|Refuse to Rent||14||<1|
|Refuse to Sell||1||<1|
|Terms & Conditions||192||12.4 (2)|
|Service Private Employer||661||67.0|
|Manufacturing Private Employer||80||8.1|
|Real Estate Agent||1||<1|
|Administrative Closure RTS*||117||8.7|
|Administrative Closure PS **||550||40.8|
|No Probable Cause||198||14.7|
|No Probable Cause/No Jurisdiction||3||<1|
|Probable Cause/No Probable Cause||13||<1|
|Public Hearing (Final Decisions)||5||<1|
|Closure After Hearing||5||<1|
|Closure Before Hearing||8||<1|