All persons in Louisiana are protected against acts of unlawful discrimination by national and state laws. Anyone may file an official complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights (LCHR). There is no fee for this service and a claim may be filed in the following ways:
Intake includes an initial screening to determine whether Complainants meet guidelines related to the prescribed number of employees and jurisdiction. Complainants whose allegations meet all guidelines — (1) required number of employees and (2) within the 180-day LCHR jurisdictional limit — are sent a letter requesting specifics about the allegations. Only when this form or document detailing the specifics is returned within the specified time is an investigation acceptance letter mailed to the complainant and the case forwarded to the investigative unit.
The investigator reviews the intake documents and responses to the initial request to determine eligibility for acceptance based on the LCHR jurisdictional areas of employment, banking and lending practices and public accommodations. If, after this review, the investigator determines that the claim is ineligible, a Dismissal and Notice of Rights form is sent to the complainant. Based upon a review of the file, the investigator makes a determination of the charge according to the gravity of the complaint. These may fall into one of three categories:
Category A: Enforcement Plan/Potential Cause Complaints includes (1) complaints that fall within LCHR enforcement plan and (2) other complaints where further investigation will probably result in a cause finding. Cases are also classified as Category A if irreparable harm will result unless processing is expedited.
Category B: Complaints Requiring Additional Information are complaints that initially appear to have some merit but will require additional evidence to determine whether continued investigation is likely to result in a cause finding.
Category C: Complaints Suitable for Dismissal may be dismissed when the Commission has sufficient information from which to conclude that it is not likely that further investigation will result in a cause finding. Category C complaints are usually established and dispensed within the intake unit.
No Jurisdiction Determination
If a Category C is determined, the complaint usually does not fall under the LCHR’s jurisdiction and a Dismissal and Notice of Rights form is issued to the complainant.
If a prima facie determination is made indicating that the alleged discriminatory act has occurred, then mediation is offered to the complainant and respondent. Mediation can expedite the case through a mutually agreed settlement and therefore benefit both parties. If mediation is desired, one of the Commission’s two certified mediators may proceed with the case. If mediation is successful, the Commission closes the case. Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that is offered by the Commission as an alternative to the traditional investigative or litigation process.
If mediation is not an option, the investigator will proceed with additional fact-finding, including site visits, interviews and requests for additional documentation of allegations. The complainant has ten days to submit any additional information requested. The investigator then submits a formal Notice of Charge to the respondent and a Request for Information. The respondent has 30 days to respond to the Request for Information.
To make the determination on the findings, the investigator may use several theories of Discrimination, including:
When all sufficient information is gathered, the Commission makes the determination of discrimination and merits of the case.
Once a determination is established, LCHR submits a copy of the determination to the complainant, the respondent and to EEOC in cases of employment discrimination.
After determination has been reached, LCHR undertakes several procedural factors to close cases. The “no cause” and “merit factor resolution” determination discussions explain the procedural process.
No Cause – In general, a “no cause” finding arises when the file contains insufficient evidence to determine whether it is more likely than not that a statute has been violated. When a no cause resolution is determined, the Complainant may appeal to the EEOC in cases of employment discrimination, in which a substantial weight review will be done, or an appeal may be made to the Commission. Decisions rendered by the LCHR Commissioners and EEOC are final.
Merit Factor Resolutions – In case of a finding for the Complainant, the Commission would proceed to employ remedies that provide “make whole” relief to the Complainant based on the merits of the charge. When a merit factor resolution is determined in favor of the Complainant, the Respondent may appeal to the EEOC only in employment discrimination cases, in which a substantial weight review will be done, or an appeal may be made to the LCHR Commissioners.
Negotiated Settlements – Settlement efforts are encouraged at all stages of the administrative process. Settlements may be accepted which provide “substantial relief” or “appropriate relief.” Settlement agreements must maintain the neutrality of LCHR and/or the EEOC.
Conciliation Agreements -The objective of a conciliation agreement is to reach a just resolution of violations found and to obtain a written agreement that provides that the Respondent will eliminate the unlawful practice and/or policy and provide appropriate affirmative relief and appropriate damages, where applicable.