Filing a Complaint with the Commission Filing a Complaint with the Commission The Resolution Conference Process (6 AAC 30.310 Resolution Conference) The commission’s staff convenes a Resolution Conference between the complainant and the respondent at the outset of the investigation to define the issues of the complaint, receive information relevant to the investigation, and if possible, negotiate a resolution. The commission’s staff will informally and impartially conduct the resolution conference to inquire into facts relevant to the complaint and, at the request of the parties, will assist the complainant and respondent to negotiate a pre-determination settlement of the complaint. Participation in the Resolution Conference is mandatory. Attendance may be compelled through a subpoena. The commission will work with the parties to schedule a time that is mutually convenient. Attendance may be accomplished through the Internet or telephonic means. The parties may bring counsel if they desire. The respondent must bring a person familiar with the facts of the case (and who is likely a fact witness) and a person who has settlement authority. The person with settlement authority may be the person with factual knowledge. The resolution conference will begin with an opportunity for each party to make an optional statement with the other party present, and the opportunity to present additional facts (oral statements and/or documents) with the other party present. The parties will then be separated in the fact-finding phase of the Resolution Conference where the assigned investigator will ask questions and receive additional documents from each party. Each party should be prepared to provide a potential list of witnesses and explain what each witness may say. At the conclusion of the fact-finding phase, the parties will be asked if each is interested in settlement discussions. Settlement discussions are not mandatory. Discussions are confidential; non-fact statements such as offers made in the context of settlement discussions will not be considered during the investigation and are not admissible during a subsequent commission hearing. The investigator will facilitate this settlement discussion. The Complaint Process The Alaska Human Rights Law makes it illegal to discriminate in employment, in places of public accommodation, in practices by the State or its political subdivisions, in the sale, lease or rental of real property, and in credit and financing practices because of race, religion, color, national origin, sex or physical or mental disability. In employment and some other situations, it is also illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, or parenthood. The Human Rights Law also makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for opposing any practice forbidden under the Human Rights Law, or because the person has filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in a proceeding under the Human Rights Law. If you believe you have experienced discrimination on any of these bases, you may contact the Commission about filing a complaint. You must contact us within 300 days of the alleged act of discrimination. You may contact the Commission by telephone, by mail, or by visiting the Commission’s office. Commission staff will help you determine if you can file a formal complaint. Staff will draft the complaint and prepare it for signature and filing. You must have your complaint drafted, notarized, and filed with the Commission within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act. The Human Rights Commission does not have the authority to provide damages beyond make-whole relief. You may be entitled to punitive damages from an intentional tort however the Commission has no authority to provide that type of relief. The Investigation Process The Commission impartially investigates the complainant’s allegations. During the investigation, the Commission does not advocate for one side or the other. The Commission first sends a copy of the complaint to the Respondent (the person or business against whom discrimination is alleged). The Respondent may provide a written response to the Commission. The Commission will assign an investigator to the case, who will then interview witnesses, collect documents, and may visit the site of the alleged discrimination or gather evidence in other ways. The Commission also has the power to subpoena witnesses or documents, if it becomes necessary to do so. After the investigation is complete, the Commission staff will issue a finding called a Determination. The Determination may conclude that: (1) the investigation did not find “substantial evidence” that discrimination occurred and the complaint, therefore, will be dismissed; or (2) the investigation found “substantial evidence” exists that discrimination occurred and the complaint will be referred for conciliation (settlement). The Conciliation Process If the Commission staff finds substantial evidence to believe discrimination occurred, the Commission will immediately contact the parties and attempt to facilitate “conciliation” (settlement). The Respondent will be asked to cease the discriminatory act or practice. Respondent also may be asked to provide make-whole relief to the complainant, undergo training in the laws prohibiting discrimination, adopt an anti-discrimination policy, or take other actions necessary to remedy the discrimination uncovered during the investigation. The Commission will dismiss the case after the parties have met the requirements set forth in the conciliation agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Commission’s Executive Director will certify conciliation failure and may decide to file a formal Accusation and refer the case for a public hearing. Confidentiality Under the Alaska Human Rights Law, cases are confidential and the Commission is prohibited from disclosing the names of parties or any records or information obtained during an investigation. If a case fails conciliation, the case is no longer considered confidential and may be referred for a public hearing. After conciliation failure, the records and information obtained during the investigation become available to the parties. The records of investigation may also be made available according to the rules of discovery if an action relating to the charge is filed in court.