This fifth annual report is a summation of the activities of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission for the period of December 1, 1969 to November 30, 1970. No changes in the Commission membership occurred in 1970. The present Commission (listed on the previous page) represents a broad cross-section of the populace -- including four whites and three blacks; three Republicans, three Democrats, and one Independent; five men and two women; two Protestants, two Catholics, two Jews, and one affiliated. Commission officers are elected by the commissioners, and serve as officers for one year starting in July.

The permanent full-time staff positions include: executive director, compliance director, two field investigators, research specialist, and three secretaries. In addition, two federal projects have added to the staff on a temporary basis: (1) a field representative serving as project director and a secretary to conduct a statewide affirmative action employment project; and (2) an attorney to develop and coordinate legal techniques. The unpaid commissioners meet monthly to formulate policy for the staff to administer. As often as practicable, these meetings are held in cities other than Des Moines as a means for the Commission to focus local attention on civil rights generally in these cities and to learn firsthand -- from community leaders and members of minority groups -- about civil rights problems peculiar to those individual cities.

The primary statutory responsibility of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is to investigate and resolve complaints alleging discriminatory practices -- based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, or national origin -- in the matters of employment, housing (except sex discrimination), public accommodations, and aiding and abetting. A supplementary function is to plan and conduct programs designed to eliminate racial, religious, cultural, and intergroup tensions. The Commission views the Iowa Civil Rights Act as requiring that a person neither be denied equal opportunity nor be given preferential treatment merely because of his race, creed, color, sex, national origin, or religion. When other relevant considerations are equal or similar, a decision (regarding matters in employment, housing, or public accommodations) must not be based upon a person's minority status -- but upon his or her personal merit.


Employment Jurisdiction: The Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965 as amended forbids discrimination in hiring, accepting, registering, classifying, referring for employment, discharging, and membership in labor organizations. The Act also forbids advertising or indicating in any manner that minorities are not welcome for employment or membership. The Act covers employers, employment agencies, labor organizations (and employees, agents, or members thereof). The Act exempts employers with fewer than four employees, religious institutions with bona-fide religious qualifications, and employment in an employer's home or for personal services. In addition, sex discrimination is not illegal where it is based "upon the nature of the occupation," that is, where sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for the particular position in question.

Housing Jurisdiction: The Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965 as amended in 1967 forbids discrimination in the sale, rental, leasing, assignment, or subleasing of housing accommodations and in the terms, conditions, or privileges under which the above transactions are carried out. The Act also forbids advertising or indicating in any way that minorities are discouraged from seeking any of the above transactions. Parties covered include: owners and such persons acting for owners as real estate brokers or salesmen, attorneys, auctioneers, agents or representatives by power of attorney or appointment; and persons acting under court order, deed of trust, or will. The Act exempts religious institutions with bona-fide religious qualifications, owner-occupied duplexes, and owner-occupied boarding houses with less than 6 rooms.

Because of an oversight in legislative draftsmanship, sex discrimination in housing is not outlawed by the Iowa Civil Rights Act. The sex discrimination amendment in 1970 (although entitled "An Act relating to sex discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations") does not include in the Act's text the necessary wording to add jurisdiction over sex discrimination in housing.

Public Accommodations Jurisdiction: The Act forbids discrimination in accommodations advantages, facilities, services, or privileges of any place of public accommodation. The Act also forbids advertising or publicizing in any way to discourage minorities from taking advantage of public accommodations. Parties covered include: owners, lessees, sublessees, proprietors, managers, or superintendents. The Act exempts religious institutions with bona-fide religious qualifications, and rental or leasing of transient housing of less than 6 rooms if the owner or occupant resides therein.

Aiding & Abetting Jurisdiction: The Act forbids any person to intentionally aid, abet, compel, or coerce another person to commit an illegal discriminatory practice. This section also makes it unlawful for any person to discriminate against a person who has resisted or opposed illegal discrimination.


Filing of a complaint (a written, notarized charge alleging violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act) with this Commission. The Commission may also initiate complaints on its own.

Preliminary investigation by Commission staff -- including confidential conferences with respondent (the charged party) and the complainant (the charging party).

Preliminary finding by investigating commissioner assigned to case (If finding is "probable cause" the investigation continues and intensifies; if finding is "no probable cause" the complaint is dismissed").

If "probable cause," conciliation is attempted by the investigating commissioner and staff member. (If "conciliated written conciliation agreements spell out what each party can expect from the others now as well as in the future).

If conciliation fails, a public hearing is conducted by a panel of commissioners other than the investigating commissioner or by a hearing examiner selected by the Commission. (Records and witnesses may be subpoenaed and testimony taken under oath at the hearing).

Based upon its findings of fact and law at the hearing, the Commission may either (1) order the complaint be dismissed for "no probable cause" or (2) order respondent to cease-and-desist from discriminating as well as take prescribed affirmative action.

The commission order may be appealed to the district court by the Commission, complainant, or respondent. (The court hearing is de novo, as the court makes its own independent determination on the facts rather than accepting the Commission's).

A court order to halt discrimination carries the effective sanction of contempt of court -- with a violator subject continually to imprisonment or fines or both until he complies with the court order.


As a matter of practice, the compliance activities take one of two forms, either a complaint or a file matter. A complaint is a written allegation of a violation of a specific section of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. It is a formal charge which requires that certain procedural steps be followed, including a formal disposition.

On the other hand, the Commission has classified as file matters those situations in which the disputes are settled preliminarily without the undertaking of a formal charge or a formal investigation. However, the same confidentiality requirements apply to file matters, as to complaints. A file matter generally arises when the aggrieved party requests the Commission's assistance in a matter involving possible discrimination, but chooses at the time not to commence formal proceedings until such time as there appears to be no viable alternative. Many times these file matters can be resolved satisfactorily upon consultation with one or both parties, following preliminary investigation of the facts. In other words, the Commission as an objective third party acts unofficially as a mediator. Of course, however, if such efforts prove unsuccessful, a complaint can follow (if the aggrieved party so chooses). Also included in the category of file matters are those situations in which the Commission has attempted to resolve disputes which, while they do not come under the Commission's specific jurisdiction for law enforcement purposes, nevertheless pose very real problems in the nature of racial religious, cultural, and intergroup tensions.

1971 Annual Report Main Page