As a public service agency, part of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission's daily activities involves responding to inquiries from the general public. The Commission has three (3) intake staff who respond to persons who write, call, or come to the office in person with questions regarding possible violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

The Intake Unit, which is part of the Compliance Division, has the responsibility of screening out cases which do not fall within the agency's jurisdiction. Many allegations of unfair practices do not fall within the agency's limitations of complaints based on race, religion, color, national origin, creed, sex, physical or mental disability, and age. Through an interview process, the intake person determines the area, basis, issues and timeliness of the complainant's allegations.

In addition to the interviews which result in formally filed complaints, the intake staff fields many other questions. As an example, during the period of May 1, 1981 through June 1981, Eight Hundred Thirty-four persons contacted intake staff for information, referral or to file a complaint. Only one hundred fifty-nine (159) inquiries resulted in complaints being filed. The remaining six hundred seventy-five (675) persons' concerns were requests for general information (532) or referral (143).

If it appears that the person has grounds for filing complaint, Commission staff proceeds with writing, typing and mailing the complaint forms to the complainant for signature.

When the Commission receives the signed complaint from the individual, jurisdiction must be determined prior to acting upon the complaint. Jurisdiction is determined by the Commission Compliance Director. The complaint is forwarded to the Respondent within twenty (20) days of filing.

Since complaints are the primary instrument through which the mandates of 601A, Code of Iowa are enforced, increments in complaints filed with the Commission may indicate increased compliance efforts.

Chart I demonstrates that FY 1981 complaint filings rose far above FY 1980 complaint filings. While eight hundred eighty-seven individuals filed complaints in FY 1980, the figure rose to nine hundred forty-three (943) in FY 1981, an increase of 6%.

Chart I. Complaint Filing Comparisons of FY 1980 to FY 1981

Year Number of Complaints Filed Percentage Increase
1980 887 -
1981 943 6%

During FY 1981, most complaints received alleged discrimination in employment. As Chart 2 illustrates, eight hundred eighteen persons alleged employment discrimination, seventy-seven (77) public accommodation discrimination, thirty-seven (37) housing discriminations, and six (6) credit discrimination.

Chart 2. Complaints Filed by Area of Discrimination FY 1981
Year Total Employment Public Accomm. Housing Credit
1981 943 (100%) 818 (87%) 77 (8%) 37 (4%) 6 (1%)

Chart 3 depicts the basis upon which individuals filed the nine hundred forty-three (943) complaints received in FY 1981. Clearly, Chart 3 demonstrates that most persons alleged sex discrimination (288), followed closely by race discrimination (236), and physical disability discrimination (128).

Chart 3

Year Total Sex Race Phy. Dis. **Comb. Age Nat'l Ori. Rel. Others*
1981 943  288 236 128 119 93 36 27 16
  (100%) (30%) (25%) (14%) (13%) (10%) (4%) (3%) (1%)

*Others: color, creed, marital status, mental disability &others

**Comb. (combination) complaints alleging more than one basis of discrimination.


Many complaints filed with the Commission are cross-filed with local and federal agencies. Cross-filing refers to a complaint that falls within the jurisdiction of the local, state, and federal civil rights laws and the individuals choosing to file his/her complaint with each agency.

Since all agencies are "nearly" substantially equivalent action by one agency usually assures the next agency taking no further action respecting that complaint. This saves money through elimination of duplicative efforts.


1981 Annual Report Main Page