Distinction Between Complaints and Cases: The Commission's business volume in compliance matters must be understood in the light of the working definitions of "complaint" and "case." A complaint is a notarized, written allegation of a violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. It is a formal charge which must be filed in triplicate and contain all of the information required by the Commission regulations. On the other hand, a case is any matter in which an aggrieved party alleges violation of the Act, but for various reasons decides not to file a formal complaint. These are qenerall settled preliminarily without the undertaking of a formal charge or, a formal investigation.
Disposition of Formal Complaints: As of December 15, 1967, a total of 38 formal complaints had been processed by the Commission during its first two and one-half years.
|Commission order appealed||1||-||1||-|
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3. The 38 formal complaints arose in a total of 14 communities. Single complaints arose in Ames, Clinton, Council Bluffs, Fort Dodge, Mason City, Oskaloosa, Pella, and Sioux City. Two complaints arose in Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport. Three complaints arose in Iowa City, four in Waterloo, and seventeen in Des Moines.
4. A complaint is held in abeyance when its ultimate disposition by the Commission depends upon judicial determination of certain aspects of the matter in civil action. The Commission maintains jurisdiction in the matter but does not make its finding until the civil action has been completed.
5. A finding of no probable cause means that the complainant had standing as a minority to maintain the action, but that the Commission investigation indicated no ostensible
substance to his charge of discrimination.
6. The Commission's jurisdiction extends only to discriminatory practices based upon race, color, creed, national origin, or religion. Consequently, a Commission finding of no jurisdiction follows when the complainant's allegations do not involve discrimination based upon his race, color, creed, national origin, or religion.
7. A complaint is dismissed by the Commission when circumstances render further action meaningless at that time.
General Case Load: Considerable Commission staff time also has been spent in resolving or clarifying the issues in a. wide variety of general cases which did not proceed to the formal complaint stage. The Commission feels that it has the public responsibility to at least look preliminarily into any possible discriminatory incidents or situations which come to its attention. Many times, however, the aggrieved party does not elect to file a formal complaint, but does request the Commission's resources in helping to resolve the problem.
A good example of such a case was the publicized incident in December of 1967 involving allegations that MexicanAmericans in the Muscatine area were being excluded from adult education courses at the Eastern Iowa Community College. The matter was called to the Commission's attention, but the complaining individuals did not wish to file a formal complaint at once, preferring instead to use the Commission's resources in a persuasive or coordinating role. With the benefit of several days of fact finding on the many aspects of the controversy, the Commission's compliance director was successful in bringing the various principals in the matter together to resolve the problem. As a third party who had thoroughly researched the situation, he was able to demonstrate and correct the lack of communication between the parties. Consequently, the Mexican-American individuals realized that they were not being discriminated against, and they are presently on the waiting list for the next session of classes.
Other Compliance Matters: Commission attention has also been given, under terms of a working agreement with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to two other categories of cases -- EEOC referrals and EEOC deferrals. Predominant among EEOC referals are cases alleging discrimination in employment based upon sex. Federal law prohibits such discrimination, while Iowa law does not. Consequently, all complaints or cases alleging sex discrimination coming to the Iowa Commission's attention are referred to the EEOC for disposition.
On the other hand, all allegations of discriminatory practices under federal law coming to the attention of the EEOC which also constitute matters within the jurisdiction of the Iowa Commission are deferred to the Iowa Commission for disposition. After sixty days have elapsed since the Iowa Commission has been notified of the matter, the EEOC may assert jurisdiction and process the complaint, if any, through its own channels.
Minority Rights and Responsibilities
Overview: The whole idea of the Iowa Civil Rights Act is to ensure that all people receive equal treatment under the law. In its investigations of alleged discriminatory treatment of minorities, the Commission has given full consideration to both parties in all compliance matters, including both formal complaints and general cases. It has carefully and thoroughly investigated the facts and issues at hand in its attempt to resolve differences between the parties in a fair and equitable fashion.
Finding of Discrimination: A Commission finding of discrimination follows when its investigation indicates that the particular aggrieved party met the general qualifications or standards demanded or expected of everyone else, but appeared to have been excluded specifically because of his race (or creed, color, national origin, religion). By Iowa law, race, creed, color, national origin, and religion are not valid considerations on which to base decisions in matters of housing, employment, or public accommodations.
When the evidence indicates that discrimination probably has occurred, the Commission seeks the appropriate remedy for the aggrieved party through conciliatory efforts with the respondent. Thorough explanations of the coverage of the law, the law's application to the respondent, the seriousness of the alleged offense, and the breadth of the Commission's enforcement powers many times have been sufficient to demonstrate to the respondent that his practices have been illegal and to convince him to take corrective steps.
Attempts are made also during the conciliation stage to allay any fears or misconceptions that the respondent has about practicing equal opportunity. For example, in employment matters the Commission has offered to discuss in depth with management creative ways of obtaining and maintaining an efficient integrated work force. In this connection, suggestions are made as to specific means of recruiting, testing, interviewing, orienting, training, and placing minority applicants in a constructive and fair fashion. The possibility of in-service training on considerations of cultural differences and intergroup sensitivity for the entire work force is also discussed, with suggestions made by the Commission as to content and procedure.
Enforcement measures generally are used only as the last resort when all conciliation attempts fail. Then, however, the Commission takes the firm stand that the necessary legal steps will be taken to ensure the appropriate remedy at law.
Finding of No Probable Cause: A Commission finding of no prob ble cause is made when the evidence indicates that the complainant's race (or color, creed, national origin, religion) was not the determining consideration in the respondant's action leading to the complaint of discrimination. In other words, the Commission investigation has indicated that the complainant did not meet the qualifications or standards which are generally expected of everyone else in similar circumstances.
Several factors which can operate legally to exclude some individuals and not others come to mind. For example, places of public accommodations generally maintain a policy requiring certain standards of conduct and dress by its patrons. These standards are valid, as long as they are applied uniformly to all persons, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or religion. Of a similar nature, the Commission recognizes that many landlords have a policy of not renting to families who have children or pets, or who have a poor credit rating. These standards are considered valid as long as they are applied uniformly, and are not developed specifically as a means of circumventing the fair housing law.
In employment matters involving job entry, the Commi sion likewise recognizes that certain reasonable qualifica tions or standards must be met in such fundamental things as past work history, employment references, character references, police records, education, applicable work experience, aptitude tests, and preliminary performance tests. In employment matters involving job promotions and job releases, the Commission's investigation takes into account such unfavorable aspects as an employee's absenteeism, tardiness, insubordination, lack of cooperation, lack of productiveness, general inability to perform the necessary tasks, and specific inability to assume the necessary responsibility commensurate with the job.
When the Commission investigation indicates that there was no probable cause for the charge of discrimination, the Commission still does what it can to help alleviate the aggrieved individual's problems in some other way. This help takes a variety of forms depending upon the circumstances. For example, in cases involving employment matters the Commission might: help the person find another position; counsel him on the importance of good employment habits; advise him on job training and educational opportunities; help him generally in "finding" himself; or help him define some attainable goals in life and outline specific courses of action to pursue those goals. The overriding concern is to assure him that effective legal enforcement of equal opportunity is a reality, and that in this particular case he did not possess the necessary qualifications which are generally demanded or expected of everyone else in similar circumstances. He must be encouraged to adjust his goals to attainable heights, and to try again -- realizing that legal remedies exist if he is discriminated against.