Enforcement (Complaint Processing)
The power and duty "[t]o receive, investigate, and finally determine the merits of complaints alleging unfair or discriminatory practices" are delegated by the Governor and General Assembly to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission by Iowa Code Section 601A.5(2).
Complaints are "received, investigated, and finally determined" in the following steps:
Step I - Intake
Step 2 - Administrative Review
Step 3 - Investigation
Step 4 - Conciliation
Step 5 - Public Hearing/Final Commission Decision
Intake. At intake a person calls or visits the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) and asks to speak to someone about a possible civil rights violation. A Commission intake officer interviews the person--explores the person's situation or problem--and determines whether the person has grounds to file a civil rights complaint. If the person has grounds and wants to file, then the intake officer drafts the complaint and prepares the necessary forms. A complaint is filed when the written form is signed, notarized, and received by the Commission.
In Fiscal Year 1988, 4,000 persons called or visited the Commission. There were 696 calls from employers and landlords seeking information on the law. Of those persons calling about filing a complaint, 27% or 1,075 of those interviewed actually filed complaints.
Many city and county human rights commissions in Iowa process civil rights complaints. Local commissions (identified later in the Report) cross-filed 399 complaints with the Commission. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal anti-discrimination agency charged with enforcing Title VII, cross-filed 69 complaints.
|Year||Number Filed||Percentage Change|
During 1988, staff in the intake unit
undertook a more intensive interviewing process which decreased the number
of persons filing complaints that were clearly non-jurisdictional. This
accounts for some decrease in the number of complaints filed.
Once filed, the complaint is reviewed by a compliance manager who determines jurisdiction. If the Commission lacks jurisdiction to further process the complaint, the complaint is closed and labeled "No Jurisdiction." In fiscal Year 1988, only six complaints were closed in this manner. Intake officers were instructed not to prepare complaints that were clearly nonjurisdictional. If these persons still wished to file complaints, they were sent blank complaints forms with instructions on how to complete the forms.
Chart 3. Complaints by Area
|Area||# - %||# - %||# - %||# - %|
|Employment||1,263 - 92||1,504 - 90||1,312 - 87||1,353 - 88|
|Public Accommodations||46 - 3||93 - 5||145 - 10||106 - 7|
|Housing||58 - 4||50 - 3||82 - 5||66 - 4|
|Retaliation||?||?||75 - 5||6 - < 1|
|Credit||8 - < 1||9 - < 1||19 - 1||5 - < 1|
|Aiding & Abetting||?||16 - 1||4 - < 1||?|
Of the complaints filed in Fiscal Year 1988, 88% were in the area of employment.
Chart 4. Complaints by Basis
|# - %||# - %||# - %||# - %|
|Sex||287 - 21||384 - 23||514 - 34||521 - 28|
|Race||258 - 19||351 - 21||467 - 31||448 - 24|
|Disability||210 - 15||317 - 19||415 - 27||284 - 15|
|Age||266 - 19||434 - 26||317 - 21||335 - 18|
|National Origin||31 - 2||50 -3||89 - 6||86 - 5|
|Retaliation||?||?||83 - 5||115 - 6|
|Religion||?||?||26 - 2||19 - 1|
|Color||?||?||19 - 1||22 - 1|
|Marital Status||?||?||9 - <1||5 - < 1|
|Creed||?||?||4 - <1||3 - < 1|
As in the previous two years, sex (28%) and race (24%) continued to be the most frequently alleged bases for discrimination.
|# - %||# - %||# - %|
|Discharge||550 - 33||622 - 41||662 - 24|
|Failure to hire||178 - 11||168 - 11||210 - 8|
|Harassing conduct||171 - 10||156 - 10||272 - 10|
|Harassing conduct (sex)||63 - 4||104 - 7||102 - 4|
|Terms & conditions||389 - 23||182 - 12||273 - 10|
|Constructive discharge||86 - 5||99 - 7||115 - 4|
|Layoff||52 - 3||93 - 6||57 - 2|
|Pay difference||51 - 3||66 - 4||66 - 2|
|Failure to promote||57 - 3||77 - 6||131 - 5|
|Reprimand||74 - 4||62 - 4||99 - 4|
|Denied equal service||89 - 5||118 - 8||105 - 4|
|Failure to reasonably accommodate||89 - 5||76 - 5||77 - 3|
|Eviction||19 - 1||76 - 5||23-1|
|Failure to rent/lease||21 - 1||22 - 1||11 - 1|
In Fiscal Year 1988, "discharge" or employment termination continued to be the most frequently alleged discriminatory incident.
|# - %||# - %||# - %|
|Polk||438 - 26||478 - 32||434 - 28|
|Scott||138 - 8||158 - 10||183 - 12|
|Black Hawk||109 - 7||113 - 7||110 - 7|
|Linn||99 - 6||91 - 6||144 - 9|
|Woodbury||113 - 7||75 - 5||66 - 4|
|Johnson||36 - 2||66 - 4||56 - 4|
|Pottawattamie||47 - 3||43 - 3||49 - 3|
|Hamilton||7 - 1||40 - 3|
|Des Moines||26 - 2||38 - 3|
|Dubuque||36 - 2||38 - 3||57 - 4|
|Webster||41 - 3|
|Story||26 - 2|
|Cerro Gordo||26 - 2|
|Service Private Employer||41.8||644|
|Manufacturing Private Employer||12.1||186|
Administrative Review. After the jurisdictional review, the respondent and complainant are notified, by mail, that the complaint is on file and will be processed, In those same mailings, questionnaires are sent. The parties are given 30 days to answer and return the questionnaires.
A team of investigators reviews the complaint and the answers to the questionnaires to determine whether further processing is warranted. This is called "administrative review" or complaint screening. For those complaints that do not warrant further processing, notice of intended closure is sent to the complainant. The complainant then has an opportunity to submit any additional information which might change the decision, or to request a right-to-sue. If neither of these takes place, the complaint will be "administratively closed."
In Fiscal Year 1988, there were 481 complaints screened out. This was 26.5% of the complaints filed during the year.
Investigation. If the complaint is screened in, it is then assigned to an investigator. The investigation is conducted in several steps. Parties and witnesses are interviewed; records and documents are gathered. The investigator collects four kinds of information or evidence: (1) comparative; (2) direct, (3) pattern, and (4) statistical. This evidence is used to resolve the central question of an investigation of a disparate treatment incident: whether the decision maker's reasons for the incident (e.g. complainant's termination) are pretextual for basis (e.g. race) discrimination.
The investigator analyzes the information collected, applies civil rights law to the facts, and then recommends Probable Cause (PC) or No Probable Cause (NPC). The internal hearing officer reviews the entire complaint file and makes an independent determination of PC or NPC.
Mediation is an on-going option during the investigative period, if the Respondent indicates interest in settlement. If the parties agree on settlement terms, a "no-fault" agreement is executed, and the complaint is closed as "Satisfactorily Adjusted."
Chart 8. Analysis of Determinations
|Determination||# - %||# - %||# - %|
Failure to locate
|104 - 8||131 - 11||255 - 14|
|172 - 19||150 - 12||163 - 9|
|400 - 29||276 - 23||481 - 27|
|No Jurisdiction||21 - 2||2 - < 1||6 - 1|
|No Probable Cause||233 - 17||314 - 26||386 - 21|
|Probable Cause||229 - 17||85 - 7||55 - 4|
|Satisfactorily Adjusted||91 - 7||102 - 8||111 - 6|
|Successfully Conciliated||29 - 2||34 - 3||225 - 12*|
|Withdrawn||75 - 6||87 - 7||87 - 5|
|Withdrawn/Satisfactorily Adjusted||1 - < 1||5 - < 1||3 - < 1|
|Approved for Public Hearing||139 - 1||16 - 1||31 - 2|
|Closure after Hearing||1 - < 1||1 - < 1||10 - < 1|
In Fiscal Year 1988, there were
55 complaints with a Probable Cause decision; 386 received a No Probable
Cause decision. This was an increase of 101 or 23% in the number of full
investigations conducted by the agency. Changes in technique, analysis,
and focus account for the greater number of determinations.
Conciliation. If the internal hearing officer determines Probable Cause, then an ICRC conciliator is assigned to attempt to resolve the matter. From intake to the PC/NPC determination, the ICRC functions as a neutral fact-finder. However, after a PC finding, the ICRC becomes an advocate for the complainant. The ICRC's finding of probable cause requires that the conciliator negotiate the best possible settlement for the agency, the complainant, and the public. If the parties reach a settlement agreement, then the complaint is closed as "successfully conciliated."
If, after the required 30-day period, the respondent is not interested in conciliation or if the parties cannot agree on settlement terms, then the conciliator recommends whether the complaint should proceed to public hearing. The executive director and one commissioner make the decision on proceeding to hearing, in accordance with Iowa Code 601A.15(5).
Public Hearing/Commission Decision. The ICRC is represented at public hearings by an assistant attorney general, and the hearing is conducted in accordance with the provisions of Iowa Code, Chapter 17A for contested cases. The external hearing officer presides at the hearing and issues a proposed decision.
The Commission, comprised of seven commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate, reviews the record and makes the final ICRC decision and issues an order either requiring that the discrimination cease and requiring appropriate remedial action, if discrimination is found, or dismisses the case.
In Fiscal Year 1988, public hearings were conducted for 32 complaints. This compares with 16 hearings in 1987 and 17 hearings in 1986.
Judicial Review. Judicial review of the commission's action may be sought in accordance with the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act. The petition must be filed with the court within 30 days of the certified mailing date of the final agency action.
Annualized Benefits. Monies collected from respondents as a result of a settlement or final commission decision, and paid to complainants, are called "annualized benefits." In Fiscal Year 1988, annualized benefits reached a record amount, $1,422,366.40.
Case Inventory. Changes in the case processing system in
Fiscal Year 1988 resulted in a
decrease of 344 cases in the inventory as of June 30, 1988.
|Beginning||Ending||+ or -|
Processing Time. Improvements in the case processing system
in Fiscal Year 1988 also resulted in a drop of the average number of months
necessary to process a complaint to determination. The time decreased to
11.7 months, a decrease of 1.5 months.
|Months||+ or -|