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General Questions
Q: What is discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act?
A: Discrimination is the unfair treatment of an individual because of a personal characteristic as described in the Act.

Q: What areas are covered under the Iowa Civil Rights Act for discrimination?
A: The Act covers discrimination in Employment, Housing, Public Accommodations, Credit, and Education.

Q: What personal traits or characteristics are protected from discrimination?
A: The following personal characteristics are protected in all five areas: race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, physical disability, and mental disability. 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.

Q: Is there any time limit to file a complaint?
A: 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.

Q: I already have an attorney. Do I need to file with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in order to bring suit in District Court?
A: 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.

Q: Is there ever a time when I would not be eligible to receive a "right-to-sue" letter in a case which I have filed?
A: 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.

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