Enforcement Powers: Case Processing

The Commission is empowered under Iowa Code, Section 601A.5(2), "(to) receive, investigate, and finally determine the merits of complaints alleging unfair or discriminatory practices...'. The Compliance Division, under the management of the complaince director, is responsible for the processing of the complaints. The full process includes the following steps: intake, administrative review (preliminary screening), investigation, finding by internal administrative law judge, conciliation, public hearing and final Commission decision.

The staff layoffs which took place in August 1991 necessitated a reorganization of positions and functions within the Compliance Division. Three investigators were reassigned to perform intake duties. This, together with the loss of two investigators through layoff, one position which remained unfilled, and one resignation, resulted in a loss of investigative time and fewer completed investigations. The layoff of the receptionist made it necessary for other clerical staff to cover this task, causing less time to be available for support staff to assist the investigative staff. Ways to improve worker efficiency were explored and implemented, and the addition of more computers helped to ease the work flow.

Separate work units continued to function in specialized areas, such as backlog cases, newly-filed cases, age/ADEA cases, and housing/HUD cases. By the end of the fiscal year, the backlog of cases filed previous to1988 was nearly eliminated. Because of a large number of cases awaiting preliminary screening, a special team was formed in April 1992 to tackle this problem. By the end of the fiscal year, this logjam had been broken, and staff was much closer to goal of screening each case within 60 days after filing.

The Year's Work

During FY92, there were 1,562 new complaints filed with the Commission, which was an increase of 17.9% over the previous fiscal year. A total of 1,362 determinations were made during the year, which was an increase of 14% over the previous year. The following chart shows a trend of a rise in complaints in each of the last two years.

New Complaints Filed: Seven Year Comparison
Complaints 1,672  1,515 1,474 1,198 991 1,282 1,562
Year 85/86 86/87 87/88 88/89 89/90 90/91 91/92


Following are charts showing the breakdown of complaints filed and complaint determinations during the fiscal year: Employment continued to be the area in which the largest number of complaints was filed. Sex, age, race and physical disability were the most frequently alleged bases for discrimination.


Complaints Filed by Area

Area # %
Employment 1,357 84.2
Public Accommodations 113 6.3
Housing 85 5.2
Retaliation 30 1.7
Education 22 1.3
Credit 5 <1

(This totals more than the 1,562 complaints filed, as some complaints are filed in more than one area.)


Complaints Filed by Alleged Basis

(Top 5)

Basis # %
Sex 566 29.6
Age 389 20.3
Race 323 16.9
Physical Disability 316 16.5
Retaliation 121 6.3

(Other alleged bases include color, marital status, familial status, religion, mental disability, perceived mental disability, perceived physical disability, and national origin. Again, the totals add up to more than the 1,562 complaints filed because many complaints allege more than one basis for discrimination.)


Discharge, or termination, is the most frequently alleged discriminatory incident. Surprisingly, there was not an increase in the number of complaints alleging sexual harassment, although there was an increase in the number of inquiries from both employers and employees about this type of discrimination. (See Education and Outreach section.)


Alleged Incident

(Top Twelve)

Incident # %
Discharge 717 31.4
General Harassment 169 7.4
Failure to Hire 161 7.0
Terms and Conditions 138 6.0
Constructive Discharge 119 5.2
Sexual Harassment 98 4.3
Promotion 84 3.7
Discipline 68 3.0
Retaliation 68 3.0
Unequal Service 67 2.9
Layoff 56 2.5
Reduction in Hours 55 2.4
Equal Pay 51 2.2


As in past years, the majority of complaints filed have originated in Iowa's most populous counties. The ten counties with the most complaints file are listed below:


Complaints Filed by Location

(Top Ten)

County # %
Polk 421 26.9
Scott 171 10.9
Linn 102 6.5
Black Hawk 99 6.3
Woodbury 90 5.8
Dubuque 66 4.2
Pottawattamie 61 3.9
Cerro Gordo 48 3.1
Johnson 47 3.1
Webster 36 2.3


Service private employers were the most frequently named respondent in newly filed complaints. This reflects an increase in the number of service employers in Iowa in recent years.


Respondent Type

Respondent # %
Service Private Employer 712 45.6
Manufacturing Private Employer 311 19.9
Governmental Unit 153 9.8
Retailer/Wholesaler 108 6.9
Owner/Proprietor 92 5.9
Educational Institution 77 4.9
Manager 18 1.2
Credit Institution 16 1.0
Labor Organization 13 <1
Real Estate Agent 6 <1
Creditor 3 <1
Employment Agency 4 <1
Other 49 3.1


Analysis of Determinations

Determination # %
Administrative Closure 228 16.7
Adminsitrative Closure RTS* 239 17.5
Administrative Closure PS** 466 34.2
No Probable Cause 91 6.7
Probable Cause 21 1.5
Probable Cause/ No Probable Cause 8 <1
No Jurisdiction 9 <1
No Probable Cause/No Jurisdiction 2 <1
Satisfacorily Adjusted 100 7.3
Successfully Conciliated 46 3.4
Withdrawn 124 9.1
Assigned for Public Hearing 13 1.0
Closure Prior to Hearing 10 <1
Final Decision 5 <1
Total 1,362  

*Right to Sue

**Preliminary Screening


Monies collected from respondents andpaid to complainants as a result of a settlement agreement or final commission decision are called "annualized benefits." During FY92, annualized benefits totaled $281,704.05.

1992 Annual Report Main Page