ICRC recognizes 50th anniversary of legislation granting enforcement powers

INDIANAPOLIS – July 1, 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) receiving enforcement powers following the passing of the Indiana Civil Rights Law during the 93rd session of the Indiana General Assembly. The state law for the first time granted the ICRC the power to issue orders, subpoena witnesses and award damages.

“50 years after its passing, the Indiana Civil Rights Law remains the foundation to what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said Jamal L. Smith, Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. “It is important that all Hoosiers have the opportunity to report discrimination and for that claim to be investigated by the state. This law provides that.”

First created as the Indiana Fair Employment Practices Commission in 1961, the ICRC was expanded in 1963 following the passing of the Indiana Civil Rights Law. Consequently, the Fair Employment Practices Commission was changed to the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, with powers of enforcement in the areas of employment, education and public accommodations.

“A careful comparison with civil rights laws of other states shows that Indiana now is in the forefront of all Midwestern states by having given its state commission enforcement powers,” said Harry Hatcher, Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s first Executive Director, in the March 9, 1963 issue of the Indianapolis Recorder.

The Commission’s jurisdiction has expanded greatly over the past 50 years, including protections in the areas of housing and credit as well as to include gender, disability, religion, nationality and familial status (in housing) as protected classes. Each year the ICRC investigates more than 1,000 complaints and receives more than 3,500 inquiries.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information on the Indiana Civil Rights Commission visit: www.in.gov/icrc.