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General Information About Our Agency and the Laws We Enforce

What is the Iowa Civil Rights Commission?

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is a neutral, fact-finding law enforcement agency that enforces the "Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965," Iowa's anti-discrimination law.  The Commission does not provide legal representation.

The goal of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is to ensure that people involved in civil rights complaints receive timely, quality resolutions.

The mission is: "Ending discrimination through effective enforcement of the Iowa Civil Rights Act."

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, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, physical disability, mental disability, retaliation (because of filing a previous discrimination complaint, participating in an investigation of a discrimination complaint, or having opposed discriminatory conduct), age (in employment and credit), familial status (in housing and credit) or marital status (in credit).

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission serves all the people of Iowa, including the parties to complaints. Often these customers have competing interests. However, there are key expectations that these customers hold in common. These include:

  • Neutral fact-finding agency
  • Fairness and equality
  • Timeliness
  • Accessibility to staff and the process
  • Quality written analysis of cases
  • Thorough job knowledge and performance of our duties
  • Well reasoned decisions

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is committed to improving the quantity and quality of the processing of complaints which will significantly increase our ability to enforce the ICRA.  This goal can best be met by proper training, better oversight and holding individuals accountable for their performance. Additionally, the agency has implemented an investigative process that is flexible with more discretion to investigators rather than employing a "one size fits all" investigative approach. The agency also has provided new computers and updated software, increased access to legal research, and improved the general aesthetics of the office to enhance the staff's abilities to perform their duties.

What is the process for complaints?

How does the Commission educate the public?

The Commission publishes and distributes materials on civil rights.

What materials are available to the public?

The Commission offers free materials: information fact sheets; EEO brochures; fair housing guides, posters and brochures; newsletters; results of testing projects; case reports; annual reports; PowerPoint presentations; and many other educational materials.

Call the Commission at 1-800-457-4416 or 515-281-4121 to request a speaker or materials.

What agencies/partners does the Iowa Civil Rights Commission work with to end discrimination?

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission's major partners are:

  • The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with whom the agency partners to process cases, receive training, and share information. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission receives funding from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission via a case-processing contract. The Commission also receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the form of a case-processing contract and grants.
  • Local human and civil rights commissions, with whom the agency partners to process cases, sponsor training, share information, and provide office space. Each community in Iowa with at least 29,000 inhabitants is required by law to have a local human or civil rights commission.  The Iowa Civil Rights Commission works cooperatively with these local commissions and has case-processing contracts with nine of the twenty-six local commissions.
  • Iowa Civil Rights Commissioners, who are appointed by the Governor and with whom the agency partners to make decisions in cases that have gone to public hearing.
  • Iowa Department of Justice, with whom the agency partners to provide legal representation of the Commission's interests at public hearings or in court.
  • Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, Inc., with whom the agency partners to sponsor special events including a booth at the Iowa State Fair.
  • Iowa Department of Human Rights, with whom the agency partners on a number of collaborative projects.

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 Diana Sisler at the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 515-281-4121, or 800-457-4416.