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A. After the commission has voted to take a complaint to public hearing, the commission shall serve on the respondent by registered or certified mail a written notice, together with a copy of the complaint as it may have been amended, requiring the respondent to answer in writing the allegations of the complaint at a hearing before one or more members of the commission or a hearing officer at a time and place specified in the notice. A copy of the notice shall be furnished to the complainant, the Iowa civil rights commission, and such other public officers and such other persons as the commission deems proper.
B. The notice shall include:
1. A statement of the time, place and nature of the hearing.
2. A statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held.
3. A reference to the particular sections of this chapter and rules involved.
4. A short and plain statement of the matters asserted. If the commission is unable to state the matters in detail at the time that the notice is served, the initial notice may be limited to a statement of the issues involved.
C. The hearing will be conducted by the commission, or by a hearing officer appointed by the commission.
D. No person shall take part in the conducting of the hearing who has any personal interest in its outcome, or who has taken part in the investigation of the complaint, or has taken a position as to whether discrimination occurred with respect to the matter in question. No commissioner who would be disqualified under the above criteria shall take part in any vote or discussion by the commission with respect to the complaint.
E. If a party fails to appear in a contested case proceeding after proper service of notice, the person(s) conducting the hearing may proceed and make a decision in the absence of the party.
F. Opportunity shall be afforded all parties to respond and present evidence and argument on all issues involved and to be represented by counsel at their own expense. The case for the commission may be presented by any member of the commission staff or by an attorney from the city attorney's office. The hearing need not be bound by the strict rules of evidence, but the admission of evidence should be based on sound discretion as represented in the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act section 17A.14(1).
17A.14(1). Irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence should be excluded. A finding shall be based upon the kind of evidence on which reasonably prudent persons are accustomed to rely for the conduct of their serious affairs, and may be based upon such evidence even if it would be inadmissible in a jury trial. Agencies shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law. Objections to evidentiary offers may be made and shall be noted in the record. Subject to these requirements, when a hearing will be expedited and the interests of the parties will not be prejudiced substantially, any part of the evidence may be required to be submitted in verified written form.
G. The record in a case shall include:
1. All pleadings, motions and intermediate rulings.
2. All evidence received or considered and all other submissions.
3. A statement of all matters officially noticed.
4. All questions and offers of proof, objections and rulings thereon.
5. All proposed findings and exceptions.
H. Oral proceedings shall be open to the public and shall be recorded either by mechanized means or by certified shorthand reporter. Oral proceedings or any part thereof shall be transcribed at the request of any party with the expense of the transcription charged to the requesting party. The recording or stenographic notes of oral proceedings or the transcription thereof shall be filed with and maintained by the commission for at least five (5) years from the date of decision. Notice of public hearing shall be disseminated among local news media at least five (5) days prior to the date of the hearing.
I. Findings of fact shall be based solely on the evidence in the record and on matters officially noticed in the record.
J. The person(s) conducting the hearing will make written findings of fact and conclusions of law, will state in writing their determination as to whether or not the respondent discriminated against the complainant, and their recommended disposition, including remedies provided under subsection 2-10-5G of this code.
K. If the decision under subsection J of this section is made by a hearing officer, the commission shall vote as to whether to adopt, modify or overrule the written findings and proposed remedies. Their decision shall be by a majority of those present and voting. Thereupon the commission shall issue a ruling either incorporating the proposed findings and remedies as its own stating the commission's decision or including separate findings and remedy. Decisions shall be sent by certified mail to the parties of record. For the purposes of this section, the date of mailing shall be considered the date of the commission's decision.
17A.15(3). When the presiding officer makes a proposed decision, that decision then becomes the final decision of the agency without further proceedings unless there is an appeal to, or review on motion of, the agency within the time provided by rule. On appeal from or review of the proposed decision, the agency has all the power which it would have in initially making the final decision except as it may limit the issues on notice to the parties or by rule. In cases where there is an appeal from a proposed decision or where a proposed decision is reviewed on motion of the agency, an opportunity shall be afforded to each party to file exceptions, present briefs and, with the consent of the agency, present oral arguments to the agency members who are to render the final decision.
(Ord. 4064, 1-3-1995)