What is the Iowa Civil Rights Commission?
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is an administrative agency that enforces the "Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965," Iowa's anti-discrimination law.
The Mission of the Commission is to eliminate discrimination in Iowa.
The Commission fights discrimination five ways: (1) investigating and resolving discrimination complaints, (2) conducting a multi-faceted public education program, (3) testing entities covered by the law to determine the nature and extent of discrimination in Iowa, (4) helping communities form diversity appreciation teams to identify and resolve diversity and discrimination issues locally, and (5) promoting the use of Study Circles (small discussion groups) on race relations.
What is discrimination?
The "Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965" prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education. Discrimination, or different treatment, is illegal if based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, physical disability, mental disability, age (in employment and credit), familial status (in housing and credit) or marital status (in credit).
Who may file a complaint?
Any person who claims to be aggrieved, or wronged, by a discriminatory or unfair practice, as defined by the the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
How is a complaint filed?
A complaint is filed when received in writing by the Commission. For more information about Iowa's anti-discrimination law and filing a complaint, call 515-281-4121 or 800-457-4416. There is no charge for filing a complaint.
Is there a filing limitations period?
Yes. Under Iowa law, a complaint usually must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory practice.
What happens after a complaint is filed?
The respondent is notified that a complaint has been filed. Usually a questionnaire is mailed to each party. The Commission will review the complaint, the answers to the questionnaires and any other collected information, and will then make a decision as to whether further investigation is warranted.
If further investigation is warranted, the complaint will be assigned to an investigator who will conduct an impartial and thorough investigation. Witnesses are contacted and all relevant records are examined. The parties may also be offered an opportunity to negotiate a no-fault settlement.
Following an investigation, an administrative law judge reviews the collected information and decides: probable cause (discrimination probably occurred) or no probable cause (discrimination probably did not occur.) If the decision is no probable cause, the complaint is dismissed.
If probable cause is found, the Commission attempts to negotiate the best settlement for the complainant and the people of Iowa. If this attempt fails, a decision is made whether to proceed to public hearing. With notice of public hearing, the complaint is no longer confidential. After hearing, the Commission makes a final decision whether discrimination occurred.
If the Commission determines the respondent violated the "Iowa Civil Rights Act," the Commission will order appropriate "make whole" relief. Examples of Commission-ordered relief are: back pay and interest; actual expenses; an order to cease discriminatory practices, emotional distress damages, and reasonable attorney's fees.
How does the Commission educate the public?
The Commission conducts workshops and seminars on a variety of civil rights topics around the state, publishes and distributes materials on civil rights, and offers an extensive video lending library.
What materials are available to the public?
The Commission offers free materials: information fact sheets; EEO posters and brochures; Fair Housing Guide, posters and brochures; The Communicator newsletter; Team Diversity newsletter; Case Reports; Annual Reports; and many other educational materials. (Videos for loan require a small fee for handling.)
Call the Commission at 1-800-457-4416 or 515-281-4121 to request a speaker or materials.
Are volunteer workers wanted by the Commission?
Yes! The Iowa Civil Rights Commission welcomes volunteers to work in all phases of complaint processing, testing programs, public education, and administrative support. Work assignments are varied and flexible. You can be an active participant in the fight against discrimination in Iowa.
How do I volunteer?
Call the Ralph Rosenberg, executive director, at the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 515-281-8084, or 800-457-4416 ext. 1-8084.
What more can I do to fight discrimination?
· Learn what discrimination is and how it hurts.
· Challenge stereotypes.
· Speak up against discrimination.
· Learn to appreciate diversity, and advocate for greater diversity everywhere.
· Talk to people about the evils of discrimination and the value of diversity.
· Help start diversity appreciation teams in your community, at work, and in the schools; and then participate.
· Participate in Study Circles in your community.