Case Studies in Discrimination

Black students get part-time jobs "meeting the public"

Two blacks applied for part-time jobs as waiters in a local supper club while they attended college. The owner of the establishment had asked the college placement service for referrals, but he refused to employ the complainants in the jobs as waiters since they would be "meeting the public". The commission (in making a finding of "probable cause") determined from its investigation that there was no other basis for the decision not to employ the complainants. In the conciliation session with the commission, the owner stated that he would offer them an opportunity to work at the first opening. Subsequently, the complainants have in fact worked there as waiters.

Affirmative action in recruiting minority employees

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged a company, which was doing business in several states including Iowa, with "maintaining discriminatory hiring and recruitment practices, which operate to exclude Negro and other minority group workers from employment". Pursuant to section 706 (b) of the U. S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, the E.E.O.C. deferred the complaint to this commission for investigation and disposition. The commission investigation disclosed that the plant in Iowa at that time had an American Indian in its full- time employ, and that a black part-time employee had recently quit. The company professed to be interested in recruiting qualified minority employees, but explained that there are few minorities living in that city or in the surrounding geographical area. Although making a finding of
"no probable cause", the commission secured the cooperation of the company to pursue an affirmative action recruitment program. Moreover, the company periodically sends to the commission reports on its disposition of job applications from members of minority groups. Subsequently, one Negro has been hired.

Black to be considered for city employment at next opening

A Negro was passed over several times in his attempt to gain employment with either the (local) city waterworks or sewerage departments. The commission investigation demonstrated that the individual was qualified for a job in either department (as he held a certificate from the State Health Department as a wastewater treatment plant operator, and a diploma from a technical school in water and sewerage treatment); and that he had followed the ordinary procedures or channels in obtaining employment of this sort. Apparently, the reluctance in hiring the complainant stemmed primarily from one unfavorable oral recommendation, even though all of the written recommendations in his city civil service personnel file were clearly favorable. A more comprehensive background check by the commission also disclosed a favorable overall record by this individual. In light of this additional information, the agencies have each agreed to give the applicant full and equal consideration for the next opening in his area of training.

Indian family moves into housing of its choice

An American Indian -- upon arriving in town with his family from Nebraska to assume his new job -- answered on the telephone an ad in the local newspaper regarding a house for rent. However, when he went to see the house the owner said that he did not rent to Indians. In preliminary contact with the owner on that same day, a commissioner convinced the owner that he was acting illegally and consequently that a formal complaint would be forthcoming if he did not rent the house to the aggrieved party. Moreover, the commissioner attempted to allay the unfounded fears or prejudices that the owner held indiscriminately against Indians generally -- and (in conjunction with the complainant's boss) even made a personal guarantee of the first month's rent. With the owner thus satisfied, the family moved in immediately.

Local educational association's discriminatory housing list corrected

It came to the commission's attention in a file matter that a local educational association was maintaining for incoming school employees a list of available housing -- that included such discriminatory standards for renting as 'no colored', 'Negroes accepted', or 'colored only'. In conversations with commission personnel, the executive director of the education association agreed to delete all discriminatory listings, and to report to the commission any persons requesting the association to make a discriminatory listing.

Whites with black friends not evicted from apartment

Two young white ladies received a thirty-day eviction notice, apparently because they entertained blacks in their apartment. They allegedly were told by the manager that the owner did not rent to blacks, and that he did not want "them around all the time". The manager denied that discrimination was involved in the eviction, and pointed to other reasons (e.g. messy apartment, excessive noise, and keeping late hours) -- none of which could be substantiated by the other tenants or by inspection. In the conciliation agreement, the owner agreed to let the young ladies remain in their apartment -- as long as they abided by the general (legitimate) rules followed by everyone else in the apartment building. Moreover, he promised that the complainants would not be harassed or intimidated in any way.

Blacks served in tavern at regular prices

Several blacks complained that they were charged one dollar each for a bottle of beer in a local tavern, while the regular price was only forty cents. The tavern owner-operator attempted to justify her actions by saying that she deliberately overcharged the complainants (who, she thought, might be troublemakers) to discourage them from becoming customers. Finally realizing that her actions were illegal (in that she applied different standards to blacks than to whites), she signed a conciliation agreement. In it, she agreed to provide service on a nondiscriminatory basis, and stated that the complainants are welcome whenever they desire to patronize her establishment. She noted that she had no objection to serving anyone "so long as they act properly and do not cause difficulty". This is all that the civil rights law and commission require. She has advised the commission that she subsequently has served a number of blacks, whom she named.

Black bowling league secures time period

A black women's bowling league filed a formal complaint after it was unable to secure a time period at three different bowling alleys. This league had bowled the previous year, thus making them eligible for a reserved "prime" time period at the same alley. When a suitable time could not be obtained there, the ladies tried unsuccessfully at two other lanes to find a time period. In the conciliation session in which this commission worked with the local commission, the ladies of the league were able to find a time suitable to their needs at one of the lanes -- after an apparent breakdown in communications, between the alley owner and an employee, was corrected. This commission then deferred to the local commission the formal complaints against the other two alleys for further investigation -- including the taking of remedial steps to ensure that mixups (such as misinformation and conflicting information about the availability of time periods) do not reoccur in the future. If the subsequent action by the local commission is considered to be inadequate, then this commission will reactivate its investigation. At the time of this writing, the local commission is acting on those two complaints, and this commission has of yet not felt the need to involve itself again.

1969 Annual Report Main Page