Largest Increase in History of Commission


While statistics do not tell the whole story of the accomplishments and involvements of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, they do go a long way toward explaining what the Commission has done and where a major share of its workload lies. This year, as in each previous year, the caseload represents a significant increase over the previous 12 months' statistics.

417 complaints and file matters were received by the Commission in 1971 representing a 70% increase over last year when 246 complaints and file matters were received.

The 344 formal complaints received represented an increase of more than 100% over last year, when 169 complaints were filed. Even more significantly the 344 complaints are more than the total number received in the previous 5 1/2 years combined (July, 1965 - November, 1970), when 309 were received.

In 1971 formal complaints of discrimination were filed in the following areas:

Employment -- 262 complaints (76%). This represents a 16% increase over 1970 when 60% (103 of 169) were in employment.

Housing -- 32 complaints (9%).

Public Accommodations -- 50 complaints (15%).

Total complaints -- 344 (over twice as many as a year ago)

Table A


Complaints 344 262 32 50
File Matters 73 54 5 14
TOTAL 417 316 37 64

Table B


July 1965 - Nov. 1971

Dec. 1970 - Nov. 1971 417 344 73
Dec. 1969 - Nov. 1970 246 169 77
Dec. 1968 - Nov. 1969 162 69 93
Dec. 1967 - Nov. 1968 122 33 89
Dec. 1966 - Nov. 1967 41 17 24
Dec. 1965 - Nov. 1966 39 19 20
July 1965 - Nov. 1965 10 2 8
TOTAL (6 1/2 years) 1037 653 384

Commission Initiation of Charges

The Commission is empowered under the statute to initiate charges on its own. In reporting year 1971 the Commission initiated 74 complaints -- 67 in employment, 4 in housing, and 3 in public accommodations. The total for 1971 is a large increase over past years and represents the Commission's awareness of the wide scope of discrimination and the growing need for positive action to seek out and eliminate that discrimination. The power to initiate charges allows the Commission to take prompt action where it finds discrimination, rather than waiting for individuals to file complaints.

Occasionally an incident of discrimination comes to the attention of the Commission, however, for various reasons the aggrieved party does not file an individual complaint. Fear of reprisal, such as loss of job, may be the reason for not filing, although reprisals for filing complaints are specifically prohibited by the law. In other cases, continuing discrimination is found in the form of unfair employment practices (e.g., unvalidated tests) within an employment system. In cases like these it is difficult for a person to point specifically to an individual instance of discrimination. Therefore, the Commission initiates its own charge to begin the investigation.

Deferral from the EEOC

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is a deferral agency for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In reporting year 1971, 57 employment complaints were deferred to the Commission by the EEOC, accounting for 22% of all employment complaints.

Title VII of the U. S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (creating the EEOC) requires that if a state law "prohibits the practices" alleged in an EEOC complaint and the state agency administering that law has the power to "grant or seek relief," then EEOC must give the agency 60 days to handle the matter. The EEOC has established deferral relationships with Iowa and 34 other states. Thus, when a charge is filed with the EEOC by an Iowa resident the case is automatically sent to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission for handling.

If a person first files a charge with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, it is standard policy for the Commission to advise the complainant to cross-file with the EEOC. In so doing the person's rights under federal law are protected. (If complainant waits until Iowa Commission has processed charge, time limits might expire for filing with EEOC.)

Formal Complaints Processed and Resolved, 1971

The Commission processed a total of 440 complaints during the 1971 reporting year. Of these 440 complaints, 344 were filed during 1971 while the other 96 were filed before November 30, 1970, but unresolved by that date (the closing date of the 1970 reporting year), thus carrying them over to this reporting year. 155 of the 440 complaints were resolved during 1971, with the other 284 still under investigation or in the conciliation or public hearing stage at the end of the 1971 reporting period.

The 155 complaints resolved during the 1971 reporting year is the largest number of complaints processed to completion in the Commission's history, representing a substantial increase over past years. And yet, more complaints than ever are coming in -- many times more. The Commission has received no increase in appropriations and so the same number of staff people have to handle the cases as in 1967. Thus, the number of complaints that have been processed and resolved is really a remarkable accomplishment even though the number of unresolved complaints continues to grow. (For a more detailed treatment of the problem, see section of this report entitled "PROBLEMS".)

Discrimination was found in 46% (71 of 155) of the complaints resolved in 1971.

11 (7%) public hearings
33 (22%) conciliations
27 (17%) administrative closings

In 54% (84 of 155) of the resolved complaints, the case was closed without a finding of discrimination.

39 (25%) "no probable cause" to believe discrimination had occurred

40 (25%) "no jurisdiction" (because of subject matter or time limits of filing)

5 (4%) withdrawn by complainant

Table C


Public Hearing 11 5 4 2
Conciliated 33 12 12 9
Administrative Closure 27 16 6 5
Dismissed (No Probable Cause) 39 31 0 8
No Jurisdiction 40 33 1 6
Withdrawn 5 4 0 1
TOTAL RESOLVED 155 101 23 31

Jurisdictional Basis of Complaints

Race was the most common reason listed in 1971 for complaints of discrimination. It was listed in 112 of the Commission's 344 complaints in 1971. In addition race and color were listed together in another 44 complaints. Thus, 45% (l56) of the formal complaints filed were on the basis of race or color. One can see that not even half of the complaints involve Blacks, although some people are under the impression that the Commission only serves Blacks.

Charges of sex discrimination comprise the second largest number of complaints filed with the Commission during 1971. The ban on sex discrimination is the newest provision of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, added in July of 1970. In 1971, 104 complaints were filed on the basis of sex, or 30% of the Commission's cases. The Commission has jurisdiction in charges of sex discrimination only in the areas of employment and public accommodations, since it was not outlawed in housing by the legislature. Complaints of sex discrimination would comprise 33% of all cases filed in 1971 if only employment and public accommodations were considered.

Table D


Race 112 70 22 20
Color 3 1 1 1
Race & Color 43 27 6 10
Sex 104 97 No Juris. 7
Race & Sex 9 9 0 0
Religion 8 6 1 1
Religion & Sex 2 1 0 1
National Origin 20 16 0 4
National Origin & Race 2 2 0 0
Creed 6 4 1 1
Sex & Creed 3 3 0 0
Other* 32 26 1 5
  344 262 32 50

* "Other" includes combinations of the above categories and those on which no basis was given for filing the complaint.


Public Hearing Statistics

During 1971 the Commission took 11 complaints the full route of administrative remedy, resulting in public hearings. 5 of these were in employment, 4 in housing, and 2 in public accommodations. Of the 11 hearings commenced, 9 have been concluded with a total of 7 decisions reached upon the recommendation of the hearing examiner. All 7 decisions were in favor of the Commission, with discrimination being found. In all 7 an order has been issued calling for the respondents to cease and desist from the discriminatory action. The order also contained steps to be taken by the discriminating party to remedy the situation and to eliminate the effects of the discrimination.

Of the 4 hearings on which no order has been issued, two have been completed, but there has not yet been time for the hearing examiner to make any recommendations. The other two hearings have been commenced, but due to technicalities they were not completed and will be resumed at a later date.

Of the 5 hearings held in employment cases, 3 have had orders issued. These three are spelled out in detail later on in this report under the section on "Policy Making" called "Public Hearings". One of them involved a Mexican-American male who was fired by a manufacturing company in Des Moines. Another involved a Black male who was denied a promotion in a packing house in Cedar Rapids. The third involved a Black female who was denied employment by a restaurant in Des Moines. Two hearings are being continued -- one involving a white female claiming sex discrimination against a Des Moines insurance company in its policy on maternity benefits. The other centers around a Black male in Council Bluffs claiming discrimination by a county department of social services when he was terminated.

In housing, 4 hearings have been held -- 2 resulting in Commission orders. One of these involved a Cedar Rapids real estate firm who used "Choose Your Neighbor" cards, to the exclusion of Blacks. Another involved a South American person who was told to terminate his residence. The third and fourth cases involved Blacks being denied apartment rental because of their race.

One of the public accommodations hearings involved a bar in Shenandoah that refused to serve Mexican-Americans. The other was in Mount Pleasant involving a club's refusal to serve Blacks in its bar.

1972 Annual Report Main Page