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 six (6) trained 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 April 1980 through June 1980, four hundred eighty-six (486) persons contacted intake staff for information or referral. Thirty- seven (37) persons had no valid Chapter 601A, Code of Iowa violations. Three hundred eighty-two (382) persons' concerns were requests for general information or referral to appropriate service agencies. The remaining sixty-seven (67) inquiries resulted in complaints being filed.

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

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

Chart I demonstrates that FY 1980 complaint filings rose far above FY 1979 complaint filings. While only seven hundred and ninety-four (794) individuals filed complaints in FY 1979, the figure rose to eight hundred eighty-seven (887) in FY 1980 - an increase of nearly 12%.

Chart I

Complaint Filing Comparisons of FY 1979 to FY 1980

Year Number of Complaints Filed Percentage Increase
1979 794 -
1980 887 11.6%

During FY 1980, most complaints received alleged discrimination in employment. As Chart 2 illustrates, seven hundred eighty-eight (788) persons alleged employment discrimination, fifty (50) public accommodation discriminations, thirty-eight (38) credit discriminations, and eleven (11) housing discriminations.



Complaints Filed by Area of Discrimination FY 1980
Year Total Employment Credit Public Accomm. Housing
1980 887 (100%) 788 (89%) 38 (4%) 50 (6%) 11 (1%)


Chart 3 depicts the basis upon which individuals filed the eight hundred eighty-seven (887) complaints received in FY 1980. Clearly, Chart 3 demonstrates that most persons alleged sex discrimination (259), followed closely by race discrimination (204), and physical disability discrimination (149).


Chart 3

Complaints Filed by Basis FY 1980

Year Sex Race **Comb. Phy. Dis. Age Nat'l Ori. Rel. Others*
1980 259 204 154 149 63 31 9 28
  (29%) (23%) (17%) (17%) (7%) (3%) (1%) (3%)

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

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

Many complaints filed with the Commission are crossfiled 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.

The Complainant would probably first file with the city agency and that agency would, in turn, cross-file their case with the state and federal agencies. The state and the local agencies have concurrent jurisdiction and a cooperative relationship to work on these cases. The state and federal agencies have concurrent jurisdictions but work together under a contractual relationship. By cross-filing the case among the agencies, the same cases are in the inventory, or open case files, of each of the three agencies. Thus, each is very interested in seeing that the case is properly and expeditiously handled.

Federal agencies are required to defer to state or local agencies if there exists an anti-discrimination law and an agency set up to enforce the law. By federal statute and contract, however, the federal agencies can designate a state or a local agency as a "substantially equivalent" agency and then defer all of their cases to the one designated agency in that state. This is the relationship between the Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Iowa Civil Rights Commission deals directly with the city agencies in Iowa under a cooperative system.

Local, state, and federal agencies monitor case processing capacity of each other to insure that Complainants' and Respondents' rights are not infringed upon by differing standards. 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.


1980 Annual Report Main Page