Under Contracts with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission, special projects have been conducted as a part of
the Commission complaint process. During the reporting period, two separate
projects funded by the EEOC were staffed. A third project which had been
authorized was not implemented because of staff vacancies. The EEOC grant
of $38,000 provided funds for staff salaries, travel expenses and training
of project personnel.
Patterns and Practices Project
The central concept of the EEOC financed Patterns and Practices project is that individual complaints alone may not serve to eliminate employment discrimination in those organizations which may provide, because of size and location, the best opportunity in terms of improvement in the employment status of minorities and women.
Based on statistical information available from the EEOC, Patterns and Practices complaints were initiated by the Commission principally against organizations with large numbers of employees. The resulting investigations are very broad in scope, covering all aspects of a Respondent's personnel system.
The following table gives a statistical overview of the Patterns and Practices Project from December 1, 1972 until June 30, 1974:
Total number of cases on hand and open at beginning of period . . . . . . . . . . .34
Total number of cases closed for all reasons during period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Total number of cases on hand and open at end of period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Number of investigations completed
. . . . . . . . 10
Probable cause for discrimination . . . . . . . 8
No probable cause for discrimination . . . . . . 4
Number of Conciliation Agreements signed . . . . 8
Number of cases still in conciliation stage . . 10
Number of cases for which the Commission decided in official vote to go to public hearing. . 5
The Patterns and Practices approach
has the goal of eliminating unintentional systemic discrimination. One of
the most important established principles of the law on discrimination is
that discriminatory practices are directed against classes of people, and
not just against specific individuals. This principle of law is well settled
in a vast array of Federal Court decisions and by the Iowa Supreme Court
in the Ironworkers case (191 N.W. 2d 75). Whether the employer had evil
discriminatory intent is not an issue. The impact of policies and practices
on minorities and women is the issue. Certain practices which are neutral
in practice but may serve as built-in obstacles which may have a discriminatory
impact are: General intelligence or aptitude testing which is not related
to the specific job, word-of-mouth referrals from an all-white workforce,
subjective ratings by supervisors who have stereotyped images of minorities
and/or women and the kinds of jobs they should hold. These and similar subtle
factors become institutionalized and unnoticed but serve systematically
to eliminate whole classes of people from being placed in jobs for which
individual members are suited. In systemic discrimination, the victims themselves
may not, and usually do not, know they are victims of discriminatory policies
and practices which have had the same impact on them as a 'white only' or
'men only' sign on the door.
Discriminatory Discharge Project
The 1964 U.S. Civil Rights Act requires the EEOC to defer Complaints to State agencies for action, in states where such agencies exist, if the laws and the administration of such laws to protect the federal rights of those who complain.
The Director of the Discriminatory Discharge Project is a lawyer. Under the contract, funds were provided to process 150 complaints which have been deferred by the EEOC to the Iowa Commission or which were filed with both agencies. The project requires a heavy emphasis on discharge complaints.
Discharge cases are difficult because many discharges of employees arise under emotional circumstances. A person who complains that he or she was discriminatorily discharged is likely to have strong feelings about the situation and the person who discharged him or her may have similar strong feelings, depending on those same circumstances. The investigation requires careful interviews and detailed examination of personnel records to determine whether classes of people (minorities or women) have been treated differently from other classes of people. For example, if a minority person is discharged for "excessive absenteeism" but white people with similar absenteeism were not,, discrimination exists. If people are treated the same in the same circumstances', discrimination does not exist. (Note examples in previous sections.)
A contract, negotiated and signed
in the spring of 1974 for $50,000, which extends until December 31, 1974,
provides for continued work on the Patterns and Practice Project and on
Deferral cases. The terms of the contract are substantially different from
earlier EEOC contracts. The new system permits more flexibility in operation.
For example, because one of the Federal Project Directors is an attorney,
his services are available to all persons on the Commission staff in all
aspects of Commission activity rather than being limited to the EEOC Project
cases. The new contract, in addition to the goals of the previous contracts
to eliminate systemic discrimination, has the added purpose of assisting
in efforts to reduce the Complaint backlog. Attention is directed to large
organizations (large in Iowa terms), and to organizations against which
a number of individual complaints have been filed. This contract permits
integration of Complaints for investigative and conciliation processes.
In the past, the money from EEOC was tightly earmarked. The new contract
designates the agency at large as the recipient of the funds. The target
is the same: systemic discrimination, but with additional emphasis on reducing
backlog and providing added discretion in operation by the state agency.
Whereas the complaint processing aspect of the work of the agency is meticulously spelled out in the law, the elimination of discrimination through persuasion and education is a broad grant of authority with no detailed legislative guidance. In a sense., there is no limit to what is possible in the way of programs and projects, except the simple hard reality of financial resources and the imagination and abilities of people.
During the nineteen months covered in this report, a number of factors, especially staff turnover rate, has influenced educational efforts.
One of the continuous activities is the participation by Commission members and the staff in programs, panels and in presenting individual speeches when invited.
A basic educational tool of the agency is the Annual Report which the law requires of the agency. Five thousand copies of the 1972 report were printed and distributed for use by Iowans. The Governor, all members of the General Assembly, state agencies minority groups, women's organizations, local commissions, commissions in other states, and concerned Iowa citizens received the 1972 report.
Publicity about Commission meetings
and the availability of the Commission's services to the general public
is a continuing educational task. Press releases are distributed to the
media regularly. Information has been distributed to the media concerning
public hearings on rules, and on other programs conducted by the Commission
and the staff.
A legislative Forum was conducted in February of 1974 to inform the public about Commission legislative proposals and permit citizens to comment on those legislative goals.
In June, 1974, the Commission sponsored two-day workshops, one in Ankeny and one in Iowa City, to which private employers and representatives of governmental units were invited to become informed on anti-discrimination law and affirmative action programs.
A variety of publications have been prepared and distributed by the agency in addition to those specifically required by law to be made available such as the Official Rules. Three such publications are A Commission Guide., a Complaint Procedure booklet, and a Fair Employment Guide booklet.
Several training sessions have been conducted for local Commission members and professional staff. Orientation sessions concerning Civil Rights issues have been conducted for various groups of state employees.
Some of the educational functions of the agency have been directed internally, especially for new staff members.
With a return to the staffing level authorized, the educational efforts can be expanded and improved in the coming year. Traditional programs as well as innovative ideas can be utilized to improve intergroup relationships in Iowa.
Investigate and Study Discrimination
As a separate assignment, the Commission is to "investigate and study the existence character, causes and extent of discrimination..." (601A.5:3). In line with that duty, the Commission held a hearing in Sioux City on May 8 and 9, 1973 to permit the Indian people of the Sioux City area to relate their problems to the Commission. A second objective of the hearing was to allow the city officials to respond to the Indian problems. A flier, entitled "Synopsis of the Sioux City Hearing," has been prepared and distributed. The synopsis includes a listing of Indian problems as follows: Lack of education, broken families, alcoholism, unemployment, substandard housing, poor health, underemployment, miseducation, lack of planned families, lack of effective communication., lack of legal services, and lack of an Indian spokesman at the state and local level.
The exact results derived from the Hearing cannot be measured in terms of material assistance to Indians. However, the crux of all investigation of all social problems is the fact that problems must be recognized before they can be attacked. It is hoped that at the very least, lines of communication were opened between responsible city officials and the Indian people in the Sioux City area.