Columbus, IN Human Rights and Discrimination

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Columbus, IN, US

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Type: Municipal Code

Status: Adopted

Source File:



Section 2.58.010 Created--Membership--Meetings.

A. There is created a human rights commission composed of not less than nine nor more than eleven members serving without compensation and broadly representative of the community's diversity.

B. Members must be a resident of Bartholomew County and shall be appointed by the common council.

C. Each appointment shall be for a term of three years. If a member dies or resigns before his term expires his successor shall be appointed to serve for the unexpired period of the term for which the member had been appointed.

D. The common council may remove commission members only for cause.

E. The commission shall elect from its membership at its first meeting and thereafter at its February meeting a chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary and treasurer. These officers elected at the February meeting shall assume their offices on the following April first.

F. The commission shall meet once each month in City Hall at a published time and shall hold special meetings as the chairperson deems necessary or at the call of a majority of its members. Special meetings may be held in City Hall or in other locations within the city.

G. The expenses for carrying on the commission's activities, shall be budgeted for and paid out of the funds of the city treasury and appropriated by the common council for such purposes; however, the commission shall also have the authority to accept gifts or bequests, grants, or other payments, public or private, to help finance its activities. The commission may receive federal or state funds by worksharing or cooperative agreements or grants with such funds deposited in designated nonreverting funds.
(Ord. 92-62, 1992; Ord. 92-45 (part), 1992: prior code § 12-11)

2.58.020 Filing statement of complaint.
A compliant shall be written, signed and notarized with the notary service available at the commission office free of charge to the complainant, and the complaint shall then be filed directly with the commission and shall provide substantially the following information:

A. The full name and address of complainant;

B. The name and address and business address of the person against whom the complaint is made;

C. The alleged discriminatory act or practice and a statement of particulars;

D. The date or dates of such alleged discriminatory act; or

E. A statement as to any other action, civil or criminal, instituted in any other form based upon such grievance as is alleged in the complaint, together with a statement as to the status or disposition of such action;

E. No complaint, except those filed under Chapter 9.28, shall be held valid unless it is filed within ninety days from the date of the occurrence of such alleged discrimination, or from the date of the termination of a published and meaningful grievance procedure provided by a respondent employer or union. Complaints filed under Chapter 9.28 shall meet the jurisdictional time requirements of Chapter 9.28.

6. A person who files a complaint with this commission shall have no recourse to the Indiana Civil Rights Commission concerning any of the matters alleged in such complaints; however, nothing shall affect such person's right to pursue any and all other rights and remedies available in any other state or federal forum. Additionally, this section shall not affect the transfer to the Indiana Civil Rights Commission of a complaint or the deferral of a complaint to the Columbus Human Rights Commission from the Indiana Civil Rights Commission or the department of housing and urban development and shall not affect the election available in Section 9.28.360.
(Ord. 92-45 (part), 1992: prior code § 12-12)

2.58.030 Enforcement powers and procedures.

A. Relating to any matter under investigation or in question before the commission, the human rights commission has the power to:

1. Investigate, conciliate and hear complaints;
2. Subpoena and compel the attendance of witnesses or production of pertinent documents and records;
3. Administer oaths;
4. Examine witnesses;
5. Appoint hearing examiners or panels;
6. Make findings and recommendations;
7. Issue cease and desist order or orders requiring remedial actions;
8. Order payment of actual damages, except that damages to be paid as a result of discriminatory practices relating to employment shall be limited to lost wages, salaries, commissions or fringe benefits;
9. Institute actions for appropriate legal or equitable relief in a circuit or superior court.
10. Further, the commission has the powers granted under Chapter 9.28, pursuant to Indiana Code, 22-9.5-4-1 (b).

B. Additionally, the commission has the authority to:

1. Employ a director and other staff personnel;
2. Adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this chapter; adopt rules and regulations specifying procedures deemed necessary for the orderly and equitable disposition of complaints.
3. Initiate complaints through a filing by the director, deputy director or chairperson, except that no individual who initiates a complaint may participate as a member of the department or commission of human rights in the hearing or disposition of the complaint;
4. Conduct programs and activities to carry out the public policy of the city as defined in this chapter within the territorial boundaries of the commission including the expenditure of appropriated city funds for community education and outreach designed to reduce the occurrence of discrimination as defined by this chapter; and
5. Prevent respondent or potential respondent from taking any retaliatory action against any other person because he or she: (a) is a complainant, or (b) a witness in a complaint, or (c) in any way assisted the commission in any matter which is or subsequently becomes under its investigation.

C. The commission shall render from time to time, but not less than once a year, a written report of its activities and recommendations to the mayor and common council.

D. The commission shall make a prompt and full investigation of each complaint of an unlawful discriminatory practice. The staff members who conduct an investigation shall not communicate their opinion and recommendation to the commissioners who may ultimately hear the complaint. If, following submission of the final investigative report, the chairperson and director determine that there is no probable cause to believe that a violation of this chapter has occurred, the complaint shall be dismissed and the complainant and the respondent notified of the dismissal.

E. If, after submission of the final investigative report, it is determined by the chairperson and the director that there is probable cause to believe that the allegations made in such complaint are true, a finding of probable cause shall be issued and the complainant and the respondent notified of such finding. In the event that a probable cause finding is issued, the parties shall be given the opportunity to conciliate. The commission shall assist and participate as needed in any efforts by the parties to conciliate their differences. If the parties are able to reach an agreement, the terms of said agreement shall be reduced to writing which shall be referred to as a conciliation agreement. The conciliation agreement shall be signed by the parties and by the chairperson and director.

F. In any case of a failure to eliminate the discrimination by means of a conciliation agreement, the commission shall hold a public hearing to determining whether or not an act of discrimination has occurred. The commission shall serve upon the person charged with engaging or having engaged in the discriminatory practice, hereinafter such person shall be referred to as respondent, a statement of charges made in the probable cause finding and a notice of the time and place of the hearing. The hearing shall be held not less than ten days nor more than sixty days, unless waived by mutual consent of complainant, the commission and respondent, after service of the statement of charges. The respondent shall have the right to file an answer to the statement of charges, to appear at the hearing in person or to be represented by an attorney and to examine and cross-examine witnesses.

G. Upon notice that a complaint is the subject of an action in federal or superior or circuit court, the commission shall immediately cease investigation of the complaint and may not conduct hearings or issue findings of fact, probable cause findings, or orders concerning that complaint.

H. If upon all the evidence presented a majority of the commissioners hearing the case find that the respondent has not engaged in discrimination, it shall state its findings of fact and dismiss the complaint. If upon all the evidence presented a majority of the commissioners hearing the case find that the respondent has engaged or is engaging in a discriminatory practice, it shall state its findings of fact and shall issue such order as the facts warrant, including an order requiring such respondent to cease and desist from the discriminatory practice and requiring such respondent to take such affirmative action as will effectuate the purposes of this chapter and other appropriate relief. In the event the commission is composed of nine members, a minimum of five commissioners is required to conduct a valid hearing; in the event the commission is composed of ten members, a minimum of six commissioners is required to conduct a valid hearing; and in the event the commission is composed of eleven members, a minimum of seven commissioners is required to conduct a valid hearing, except if commissioner disqualification due to conflicts of interests prevents this minimum number of commissioners from being met. In such circumstances a valid hearing may be held with fewer members than the number of commissioners designated above.

I. A decision made by the commission may be appealed under the terms of Indiana Code, 4-22, the same as if it were a decision of a state agency.
(Ord. 92-45 (part), 1992: prior code § 12-13)

2.58.040 Adopting, amending and rescinding rules and regulations.
The commission, after the holding of a public hearing and receiving comment on the proposed rules, may adopt, amend or rescind uniform rules of procedure to implement Chapters 9.24 and 9.28.

The rules and regulations of the commission shall be available to the public and copies of said rules and regulations of the commission shall be on file in the office of the clerk-treasurer of the city and in the offices of the commission.
(Ord. 92-45 (part), 1992: prior code § 12-14)