Complaint Process


A person claiming to be aggrieved by a discriminatory practice, his agent, the director of the commission, the city attorney or a nonprofit organization with a purpose of combating discrimination may file with the commission a written complaint stating that a discriminatory practice has been committed, setting forth the facts upon which the complaint is based, and setting forth facts sufficient enough to enable the commission to identify the person charged (hereinafter the Respondent).

Jurisdictional Review

When the complaint is received, the complaint is reviewed for jurisdiction and timeliness. If the complaint alleges discrimination as defined by the Waterloo Commission on Human Rights Ordinance and is timely filed, then the complaint is given a number and a case file is created. The complaint must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the alleged discriminatory practice occurs to be considered timely filed.

A letter is sent to the named Respondent notifying them of the alleged complaint. Respondent is given fifteen (15) days to provide a written position statement to the allegations.

Complainant will be asked to complete a questionnaire, which provides an opportunity to expand on allegations as well as provide any documentation to aide in the investigation of this matter.


After information is received from both Respondent and Complainant, the case will be reviewed for merit. If there appears to be unanswered issues, an investigation will be done. If there appears to be no merit, the matter will be closed.

Amending Charge

The complaint may be amended at any time prior to the scheduling of the matter for public hearing.


Complainant and Respondent may agree to mediation. The mediation process is an opportunity for both parties to attempt to resolve their disagreement, through a third-negotiator, prior to investigation. This is a voluntary process which carries no-fault terms should a settlement be negotiated. Upon a mediation agreement all the parties sign a written agreement, which records the terms of the settlement and closes the case.

A party to a settlement agreement may within ninety (90) days of the date said compliance with agreement was to be completed apply for reopening of a case which has been closed as satisfactorily mediated or conciliated on the grounds that the other party has materially breached the agreement.


From Inquiry/intake through investigation, the Commission is impartial. Commission staff serves as neutral fact finders, trying to determine whether discrimination occurred. Commission staff interviews both parties and any witnesses who may have relevant information. Once the investigation is complete, all the relevant information has been collected; the investigator drafts a case summary and makes a recommendation of probable cause or no probable cause as to whether discrimination.

Commission staff will conduct an impartial, prompt investigation. All investigation is dependent upon the cooperation of all parties.

Finding of No Probable Cause

If, through the investigation, it is determined that no probable cause exists for such complaint, the Commission shall notify the Complainant and the Respondent of such determination and the case shall be closed with the Commission.

Finding of Probable Cause

If, through the investigation, it is determined that probable cause exists for such complaint, the Respondent shall be promptly notified in writing of the finding and shall be informed of his/her right to conciliate.


After a finding of probable cause, the parties may enter into the mediation process where the investigation has been sufficient for the Commission to determine adequate remedies for the act of discrimination.

Where the conciliation results in an agreement between the Respondent and the Commission, the agreement shall be in writing and shall be signed by the Respondent or the Respondent’s representatives and by the Director of the Commission. The Director shall consult with the Complainant prior to signing the agreement, and should the Complainant object to the agreement, the agreement must be presented to the Commission for its approval before the agreement may be signed. The Complainant shall be given an opportunity to state the reasons for dissatisfaction to the Commission. Such reasons shall be reduced to writing.

If, after attempts to conciliate, the person or persons directed to conciliate shall find that conciliation efforts have failed, such failure shall be reported in writing to the Commission. If the Commission determines the charge to be well founded, it will promptly schedule the matter for public hearing.

If the Commission determines the charge not to be well founded, it shall declare the case administratively closed and shall so notify the Iowa Civil Rights Commission of the failure to conciliation efforts and of the action taken. (Ord. 4064, 1-3-1995)

Request for Reopening

A Complainant may apply for reopening of a previously closed complaint. An application for reopening must be in writing alleging the ground(s) and must be filed within thirty (30) days after the issuance of decision or action to be reconsidered. The Commission shall grant reopening upon good cause shown by the applicant.

Respondent may not file for reconsideration of a probable cause decision.

A Complainant may not apply for reopening of a case which has had a finding of probable cause but which is administratively closed because it was determined that the record does not justify proceeding to hearing.

Public Hearing

After the Commission has voted to take a complaint to public hearing, the Commission shall serve on the Respondent by registered or certified mail a written notice, together with a copy of the complaint as it may have been amended, requiring the Respondent to answer in writing the allegations of the complaint at a hearing before one or more members of the Commission or by a hearing officer appointed by the Commission.
The notice shall include:
(1) A statement of the time, place and nature of the hearing.
(2) A statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held.
(3) A reference to the particular sections of the Ordinance and rules involved.
(4) A short and plain statement of the matters asserted. If the Commission is unable to state the matters in detail at the time that the notice is served, the initial notice may be limited to a statement of the issues involved.

Opportunity shall be afforded all parties to respond and present evidence and argument on all issues involved and to be represented by counsel at their own expense. The case for the Commission may be presented by any member of the Commission staff or by an attorney from the City Attorney’s office.

Oral proceedings shall be open to the public and shall be recorded either by mechanized means or by certified shorthand reporter. Oral proceedings or any part thereof shall be transcribed at the request of any party with the expense of the transcription charged to the requesting party.

Notice of pubic hearing shall be disseminated among local news media at least five days prior to the date of the hearing.

The recording or stenographic notes of oral proceedings or the transcription thereof shall be filed with and maintained by the Commission for at least five years from the date of decision.

The person(s) conducting the hearing will make written findings of fact and conclusions of law, will state in writing their determination as to whether or not the Respondent discriminated against the Complainant, and their recommended disposition, including remedies.

Either party may file an appeal of the proposed decision to the Commission Review Panel within thirty (30) days. A Commission Hearing Panel may request a review of the proposed decision to the Commission Review Panel within sixty (60) days.

If an appeal or review is filed, The Commission Review Panel shall vote as to whether to adopt, modify, or overrule the written findings and proposed remedies. Their decision shall be by a majority of those present and voting. Thereupon the Commission shall issue a ruling either incorporating the proposed findings and remedies as its own stating the Commission’s decision, including separate findings and remedy. Decisions shall be sent by certified mail to the parties of record.

Judicial Review

Any aggrieved party of record shall have the right to obtain judicial review by filing a petition for judicial review in the district court in and for Black Hawk County in which the alleged discriminatory or unfair practice was committed, or the County in which any Respondent resides or transacts business.

Said proceedings shall be initiated by the filing of a petition within thirty (30) days after the Commission has issued a final order.

If no proceeding to obtain judicial review is instituted within thirty (30) days from the service of an order of the Commission, the Commission may obtain an order of the court for the enforcement of such order up on the showing that Respondent is subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission and resides or transacts business within the County in which the petition for enforcement is brought.

Appeal from the district court may be taken as in other civil cases, regardless of the amount involved.