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 Human Rights Commission’s role after a complaint is to determine how to best handle it. The Commission’s primary goal on all complaints is to find resolution through mediation by working with the complainant and the employer; the Commission will only recommend prosecution when they believe it is necessary.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about the ordinance or the procedures for filing and investigating criminal background check complaints, then please contact:
City of Columbia – Law Department
701 E. Broadway, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 6015
Columbia, MO 65205
Fax (573) 442-8828
Outline of Procedures for Filing and Investigating Criminal Background Check Complaints
- Preliminary Inquiry. Applicants and employers may contact the Law Department and staff investigator to the Human Rights Commission at any time with questions about the ordinance. The City may provide answers to questions about the ordinance or procedures, but it will not advise on the merits of a potential complaint until it is in writing and under investigation.
- Complaint of Discrimination Intake. A complainant may file a criminal background check complaint with the City at any time. Complaints may be submitted electronically or via fax, mail or in-person. All complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. Any person may file a complaint about a business’s application if they believe it violates this ordinance. Only the aggrieved applicant may file a complaint for other alleged violations not related to the application.
- Jurisdiction. The staff person for the commission will screen all complaints to ensure it is within the jurisdiction of the City: this includes using the best judgment to determine whether the complaint is filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination, the employer operates within the city limits and is subject to the ordinances, and the complaint alleges something that the ordinance prohibits.
- Notification of Complaint. Once the complaint is filed and the staff person believes there is jurisdiction, the staff person will notify the appropriate person (Respondent, Employer) that a complaint has been filed against them and provide the Respondent a reasonable opportunity to respond to the complaint.
- Resolution Prior to Investigation. The City staff person for the commission will contact both parties to determine if the complaint can be resolved prior to conducting an investigation. If it is successfully resolved, then the complaint will be administratively closed by the Commission at their next meeting.
- Investigation. If the complaint cannot be resolved through mutual agreement, then the investigator will consider the information provided by both parties and decide whether further investigation is necessary: this may include request for interviews or follow up questions to any responses provided.
- Commission Review and Determination. The staff person will present the information gathered to the Human Rights Commission at its next meeting after completing the investigation. The Commission will review the information for determination as to whether probable cause exists to support the complaint of discrimination. The Commission may also request the staff person to conduct further investigation.
- No Probable Cause. If the Commission believes that no probable cause exists, then it shall dismiss the complaint and notice will be provided to all parties that the complaint has been dismissed.
- Probable Cause. If the Commission believes that probable cause does exist, then the Commission will consider its options of whether to seek resolution between the parties, or to forward the information on to the City Prosecutor’s Office for the filing of charges.
- Voluntary Withdrawal and Administrative Closure. At any point in the process, a complainant may voluntarily withdraw the complaint. Also, the Commission may administratively close a complaint if the complainant has failed to cooperate with the commission or the commission is unable to locate the complainant or respondent.