Enforcement Powers: Case Processing

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 practices...'. The Compliance Division, under the management of the compliance 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.

Separate work units within the Compliance Division were designated to work in special areas such as backlog cases, newly-filed cases, age/ADEA cases, and housing/HUD cases. By the end of the fiscal year, fewer than 100 cases remained in the backlog of cases filed previous to 1988. Other staff were involved in mediation and conciliation, monitoring of agreements, public information, educational programs and staff training. In June 1991, investigative staff began training on performing the intake functions in anticipation of further changes within the division.

The Year's Work

A total of 1,282 new complaints were received during FY 91, which was an increase of 22.7% over FY 90. As in past years, the largest number of complaints was filed in the area of employment. A large group of complaints was filed alleging physical disability discrimination in health care facilities which resulted in the public accommodations area and the physical disability basis showing large numerical increases over the past years' patterns of complaints filed. During FY 91, a total of 1,172 complaints were closed.

Following are charts showing the breakdown of complaints filed and resolved.

Complaints Filed by Area
Area # %
Employment 973 71.6
Public Accommodations 240 17.7
Retaliation 82 6.0
Housing 44 3.2
Education 13 <1
Credit 4 <1
Unspecified 2 <1
(This totals more than 1,282 complaints filed, as some complaints are filed in more than one area.)

Alleged Basis

(Top Five)

Basis # %
Physical Disability 374 24.2
Sex 359 23.2
Race 309 20.0
Age 259 16.8
Retaliation 111 7.2


Discharge continues to be the most frequently alleged cause of action. However, the number of unequal services allegations showed an unusual increase because of the large group of public accommodations complaints mentioned above.

Alleged Cause of Action

(Top Twelve)

Cause of Action # %
Discharge 484 24.4
Unequal Service 242 12.2
Terms and Conditions 195 9.8
Failure to Serve 184 9.2
Failure to Hire 137 6.9
General Harassment 119 6.0
Sexual Harassment 97 4.9
Constructive Discharge 76 3.8
Equal Pay 47 2.4
Reprimand 46 2.3
Retaliation 46 2.3
Promotion 45 2.3

Analysis of Determinations

Determination # %
Administrative Closure 199 15.8
Administrative Closure RTS* 142 11.3
Administrative Closure PS** 368 29.2
No Probable Cause 172 13.7
Probable Cause 52 4.1
No Jurisdiction 17 1.4
No Probable Cause/No Jurisdiction 2 <1
Probable Cause/No Jurisdiction 1 <1
Probable Cause/ No Probable Cause 23 1.8
Withdrawn/ Satisfactorily Adjusted 4 <1
Satisfactorily Adjusted 122 9.7
Successfully Conciliated 37 2.9
Withdrawn 109 8.6
Closure Before Hearing 4 <1
Closure Before Final Decision 1 <1
Final Decision 6 <1

*Right to Sue

**Preliminary Screening, or Administrative Review


Monies collected from respondents and paid to complainants as a result of a settlement agreement or final commission decision are called "annualized benefits." During FY91, annualized benefits totaled $427,193.66.


As in past years, the majority of complaints filed have originated in Iowa's most populous counties. A total of 58.7% of the complaints filed came from just six counties. The ten counties with the most complaints filed are listed below:

Complaints Filed by Location

(Top Ten)

County # %
Polk 305 23.8
Scott 130 10.1
Linn 109 8.5
Dubuque 76 5.9
Woodbury 67 5.2
Black Hawk 66 5.1
Johnson 53 4.1
Pottawattamie 43 3.4
Webster 29 2.3
Cerro Gordo 25 2.0

1991 Annual Report Main Page