The City of Columbia’s role during an investigation of any complaints received is that of a neutral fact-finder. In the investigation, the City does not represent either party to the complaint and its role is to attempt to gather evidence to determine whether or not the ordinance has been violated.
The City of Columbia's Human Rights Commission has adopted procedures for the filing and investigation of complaints of discrimination as authorized under Chapter 12 of the City Code of Ordinances.
These procedures are described in detail in the section below. A printable copy of these procedures is available through the link below.
Procedures for Filing and Investigating Complaints of Discrimination
Discrimination Complaint Forms and Information for Complainants and Respondents can be accessed here.
Outline of Procedures for Filing and Investigating Complaints of Discrimination
The following outlines the sections in the Procedures of Filing and Investigating Complaints of Discrimination.
- Preliminary Inquiry: You may contact the Human Rights Investigator to discuss the circumstances and merits of your complaint and your options for filing a complaint at the local, state or federal level.
- Complaint of Discrimination Intake: Following your preliminary inquiry, if your complaint appears to be within the City of Columbia’s jurisdiction, the Human Rights Investigator will assist you in filing a complaint of discrimination with the City of Columbia and/or other state and federal agencies.
- Notification of Complaint: Once you (the Complainant) have filed a complaint of discrimination with the City, the Human Rights Investigator will notify the appropriate person (the Respondent) that a complaint of discrimination has been filed against them.
- Jurisdictional Review: Once the Human Rights Investigator receives your complaint of discrimination, the investigator will determine whether the City has jurisdiction over the complaint
- Resolution Prior To Investigation: If your complaint falls within the City of Columbia’s jurisdiction, the Human Rights Investigator will contact the Complainant and the Respondent to determine if the complaint can be resolved prior to conducting an investigation. Resolution may be accomplished by an agreement between both parties to the complaint or both parties to the complaint may choose to have the complaint mediated by the Center for Dispute Resolution at the University of Missouri School of Law.
- Investigation: If your complaint cannot be resolved through mutual agreement or mediation, the Human Rights Investigator will conduct an investigation of the complaint. The investigator will interview all parties associated with the complaint, witnesses to the alleged act of discrimination and review other evidence that relates to the complaint.
- Commission Review and Determination: Upon completing the investigation, the Human Rights Investigator will present the information gathered during the investigation process to the Human Rights Commission for review and determination if probably cause exists to support the complaint of discrimination.
- No Probable Cause: If upon reviewing the Human Rights Investigator's report, the commission finds that the evidence does not support the complaint of discrimination, a no probable cause finding will be issued and the complaint will be administratively closed.
- Probable Cause: If upon reviewing the Human Rights Investigator's report, the commission finds that the evidence does support the complaint of discrimination, a probable cause finding will be issued and both parties will be encouraged to resolve the complaint through conference, conciliation or mediation.
- Conference, Conciliation or Mediation: In attempting to resolve the complaint through dispute resolution the Human Rights Investigator or other designee of the Human Rights Commission will attempt to achieve a resolution agreeable to the parties of all violations found and obtain a written agreement that the Respondent will eliminate the discriminatory practice and provide appropriate relief. Mediation services are provided at no cost by the Center for Dispute Resolution at the University of Missouri -School of Law. The Center for Dispute Resolution acts as a neutral third party in mediating a resolution to the complaint.
- Referral or Prosecution: If efforts to eliminate the alleged discriminatory practice have failed, the Commission shall determine whether the complainant will be referred to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (if not previously dually-filed by the Complainant) or the complaint of discrimination and related file be forwarded to the municipal prosecutor for prosecution.
- Voluntary Withdrawal and Administrative Closure: At any point in the process, a complaint may be subject to closure for administrative reasons.
- Construction of Rules, Regulations and Pleadings: These rules and regulations shall be construed to accomplish the purposes of Chapter 12 of the City Code and with a view to effect justice between the parties. In every stage of the proceeding, the Human Rights Commission shall disregard errors or defects in the pleadings or proceedings which do not affect the substantial rights of the parties.
Please refer Procedures for Filing and Investigating Complaints of Discrimination for a more complete explanation of the procedures for filing and investigating complaints of discrimination.