Frequently asked questions regarding the complaint process.
Yes. For all areas, except Housing, you must first file with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. After leaving your complaint on file for 60 days, you may request a "right-to-sue letter" and take your case directly to court.
From the time the Commission receives the complaint to the time the investigation is completed and a finding by the administrative law judge has been made, the Commission is a neutral fact-finder and represents neither party.
Following the investigation, if the administrative law judge finds probable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, then the Commission becomes an advocate for the people of Iowa and tries to negotiate the best possible settlement for the complainant.
Yes. You have 300 days from the date that you first found out about the discriminatory incident to file with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Your case will also be filed with EEOC or HUD, if these federal laws apply to your case. EEOC has a time limit of 300 days from the date of the discriminatory incident; HUD has a one-year time limit from the date of the discriminatory incident. In housing only, you can directly file in court with an attorney; the time limit to file directly in court is two years from the date that you first found out about the discriminatory incident.
Yes. The Administrative Rules provide that a right-to-sue will not be issued in any of the following situations:
- After a finding of "no probable cause" has been made by the Administrative Law Judge.
- After a conciliation agreement has been reached between the parties.
- After a notice of public hearing has been served by the Commission.
- More than two years have passed since a case has been closed administratively.
- A finding of "not timely filed" or "no jurisdiction" has been made by the Administrative Law Judge.
The Act covers discrimination in Employment, Housing, Public Accommodations, Credit, and Education.
It is a personal characteristic, or protected class, which is generally not to be considered in area-related decision-making. If the basis was a motivating factor in the incident, then the incident is usually a discriminatory practice.
A "discriminatory practice" is defined generally as an "incident because of a basis." See the definition below.
It is a decision or action, usually made by someone in authority, in one of the five areas, which adversely affects someone. "Failure to hire," "harassing conduct," "failure to accommodate," "unequal pay," and "termination" are considered incidents in employment. "Failure to serve" and "unequal service" are incidents in public accommodations. "Refusal to rent/sell," "unequal terms," and "eviction" are incidents in housing. "Refusal to admit," "harassing conduct," and "suspension" are incidents in education. "Refusal to extend credit" and "unequal terms" are incidents in credit.
Discrimination is the unfair treatment of an individual because of a personal characteristic as described in the Act.
The following personal characteristics are protected in all five areas: race, color, creed, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Mental disability is covered in all areas except credit. Age is protected in employment, and credit. Familial status is protected in housing and credit. Marital status is protected in credit. There is an additional characteristic, retaliation, which is protected in all five areas. Pregnancy is covered in all five areas.