Iowa City
Human Rights Commission

Civic Center
410 E. Washington Street
Iowa City, Iowa 52240-1826

Meets the 4th Monday of every month at 7:00 in the lobby conference room. Check the H.R. agenda every month for possible changes in scheduling.

Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination
is the Law and Your Right

If you believe you have been discriminated against or you wish information on types of prohibited discrimination, please contact: Heather L. Shank, Human Rights Coordinator for the City of Iowa City, at (319) 356-5022

Commission Members

Patricia A. Harvey, Chair
Pamela (Mel) Dautremont
Tom Dickerson
Dereck A. Hall
Joan Jehle
Diane Martin
Ann K. Shires
Mary C. Theisen
Jan Warren

Discrimination Complaint Process

A complaint is filed with the Iowa City Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Coordinator conducts a thorough and impartial investigation of the allegations of discrimination. Following the investigation, the Human Rights Coordinator makes a determination, based upon the results of the investigation, as to whether there is probable cause to believe discrimination took place. The case is then transferred to the Assistant City Attorney who makes an independent determination as to whether there is probable cause to believe discrimination occurred. Three members of the Human Rights Commission also ascertain, after a review of the record, whether there is probable cause to believe the allegations of discrimination.

No Probable CauseProbable Cause
Evidence shows no reason to believe a prohibited discriminatory act took place.Evidence shows there is reason to believe a discriminatory act took place
The person who filed the Complaint may appeal the no probable cause ruling to the Human Rights Team within 10 days of receiving notice of the decisionThe Human Rights Team shall endeavor to eliminate the discriminatory practice by conciliation, conference and persuasion.

The Human Rights Team will hear evidence during the appeal. The team may either uphold their previous decision, or reverse their previous decision and find probable cause. If cause is found, the Team shall initiate conciliation proceedings.


During conciliation, an attempt is made to reach a disposition that is agreeable to the Complainant and Respondent. If conciliation fails, the Commission may:

Public Hearing

If the case proceeds to a public hearing, witnesses and documents may be subpoenaed to make a finding:

No Probable CauseProbable Cause
Upon this finding, the Commission closes the case. The Complainant may pursue the charge with other appropriate agencies. A remedy is ordered. If Respondent does not comply with the remedy, the Complainant can seek enforcement through the District Court.

If the Respondent does not agree with the result reached in the public hearing, the party may appeal to the District Court.

Sixty Day Release from Complaint Process to proceed to District Court

A person claiming to be aggrieved by an unfair or discriminatory practice must initially seek administrative relief by filing a complaint with the Commission within 180 days of the last alleged discriminatory act. The person may subsequently commence an action for relief in the district court if both of the following conditions are met:
  1. The Complainant timely filed a discrimination complaint with the Iowa City Human Rights Commission.
  2. The Complainant has been on file with the Commission at least sixty (60) days and the Commission has issued a release stating that the Complainant has the right to commence an action in District Court.
A release shall be issued upon the request of the Complainant. A release will not be issued is there has been a finding of no probable cause, a conciliation agreement has been executed, the Commission has served notice of hearing upon the Respondent, the Complaint is administratively closed and two (2) years have elapsed since the issuance date of the closure.

Iowa City Human Rights Commission


Nine residents of Iowa City are appointed by the City Council to serve a three year term. Commissioners, all committed to civil rights, reflect a broad cross-section of the community, thus insuring diversity of ideas and interests.


Commissioners work to promote the goal of non-discrimination and equal opportunity for all residents of Iowa City. Responsibilities include receiving and conciliating complaints, sponsoring public hearings and speaking to community groups to help the community better understand the law. If the parties cannot mutually agree to resolve complaints, the Commission is empowered to go to court to enforce the law.


The Commission receives its authority from Iowa City Human Rights Ordinance, to investigate, conciliate and determine remedies for discrimination in the areas of credit, employment, housing and public accommodations and education.

It is unlawful to discriminate in credit, employment, housing and public accommodations and education on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, disability, or sexual orientation.

Discrimination in housing based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, family status, presence or absence of dependents, disability or public assistance as a source of income is prohibited.

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