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Page updated Sep 14, 2011 2:21 PM

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The Investigative Process


Once a complaint is served on the company (respondent) alleged to have engaged in a discriminatory practice, a respondent is typically given thirty calendar days to submit a formal written response. Typically, the Office will request a number of documents and records from the respondent. The Human Rights Investigator will employ a wide range of investigative tools and procedures, depending on the type and complexity of the case. As a neutral fact-finder, s/he may interview parties and witnesses, review respondent's position statement (answer to the charges of discrimination) and supporting documentation, issue interrogatories and document requests, hold a Predetermination Conference, conduct a field visit, and engage in testing where appropriate.

Pre-Determination Conference

In some instances, both complainants and respondents may be asked to participate in the Office's Predetermination Conference, which is a fact finding and resolution process. The Predetermination Conference is used to assist the Office in its investigation of the discriminatory practices alleged in the charge and to obtain resolution of the charge. The parties may be represented by counsel at this conference, however, cross examination is not permitted. Not all cases require or are appropriate for a predetermination conference. The Administrator concludes whether this action is appropriate.

Determination of Probable Cause/No Probable Cause

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Human Rights Investigator recommends a determination of probable cause or no probable cause to the Human Rights Administrator, who reviews and issues a formal finding. If the case receives a no probable cause determination, it will be dismissed. A Complainant whose charge of discrimination was filed under applicable federal laws (Title VII, ADA, ADEA) may ask the EEOC to review the Offices final finding.

If a probable cause determination is issued, the Office will attempt to conciliate between the parties to reach a resolution. If conciliation is successful, the terms of the agreement will be put forth in a formal conciliation agreement and the case will be closed. If conciliation is not successful, the Administrator will notify the Human Rights Commission and the Commission will schedule a public hearing.

Request for a Notice of Right to Sue

While a complaint is under investigation, complainants may, under the American with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, request a "Notice of Right to Sue" from the EEOC 180 days after a formal complaint of discrimination has been filed. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not require this 180 day waiting period. Once a request for a Notice of Right to Sue is made, the office terminates its investigation of the charge and the case is closed.

Public Hearing

If a case receives a probable cause determination and conciliation is not successful, it is forwarded to the Human Rights Commission for a public hearing. Further efforts at settlement will be undertaken. It is advisable for both parties to obtain a private attorney, if neither party has done so previously. Depending upon the complexity of the case, a public hearing may last from one to several days. The Human Rights Commission will hear testimony of witnesses, receive documentary evidence, and weigh the arguments of the parties as outlined in the Public Hearing Procedures. All witness testimony will be sworn to or affirmed to under oath, and cross-examination is permitted. Public Hearings are recorded.

Commission's Final Determination and Order

Within 30 days of the conclusion of the public hearing, the Commission will announce in public its determination as to whether a violation of the Code has occurred. The final decision and order will dismiss the complaint if no discrimination is found. If the Commission determines that respondent has engaged in unlawful discrimination, it will issue a written decision within 30 days after announcing its decision. This written decision will contain the Commission's finding, the facts upon which the finding was made, an order requiring the respondent to bring itself into compliance with the code, and recommendations, if any, 1) regarding appropriate relief (including but not limited to compensatory damages); and 2) the imposition of civil penalties.

Decisions issued by the Commission following a public hearing are considered final. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Commission may have the decision reviewed by a court of competent jurisdiction. No petition for review may be filed more than 30 days after the date of service of the decision of which review is sought.