The goal of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission is to prevent all discrimination based on race, gender, age and disability from ever occurring in an Indiana school, housing accommodation or place of employment. Though this goal is laudable, it is unfortunate that this will likely never occur. Such discrimination is so pervasive in Indiana and the rest of the world that the agency will probably never catch up with its backlog of work.
It must be remembered that the function of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission is not necessarily to represent individuals that feel they may have been discriminated against. Their goal is to educate both sides to insure that discriminatory practices are decreased. However, once discrimination has taken place, it may be in an individual’s best interest to discuss the matter with attorneys experienced in the area of discrimination to insure that their own individual rights are best met.
Though the number of complaints filed in Indiana is only a small proportion of complaints filed nationwide, the complaints received by the agency can still be described as numerous. Jamal Smith, the executive director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission states that there has been a large jump in disability related complaints. He states that this may be due in part to changes and complexities in the Americans with Disability Act provisions concerning housing providers. However, he also states that the great majority of complaints concern discrimination in the employment area. This is likely due to the current state of the economy and the greater competition for jobs.
Discrimination is not a thing of the past, and discrimination continues to occur in all areas of life. Lawsuits and organizations like the Indiana Civil Rights Commission can at least keep such discrimination in check.
Source: Evansville Courier Press, “Goal of Indiana Civil Rights Commission is to eliminate discrimination,” by Mizell Stewart III, Oct. 22, 2011