2015 New Hampshire Revised Statutes
Title XXXI - TRADE AND COMMERCE
Chapter 354-A - STATE COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 354-A:21 - Procedure on Complaints.
354-A:21 Procedure on Complaints.
I. (a) Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice may make, sign and file with the commission a verified complaint in writing which shall state the name and address of the person, employer, labor organization, employment agency or public accommodation alleged to have committed the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of and which shall set forth the particulars thereof and contain such other information as may be required by the commission. The attorney general or one of the commissioners may, in like manner, make, sign, and file such complaint.
(b) In connection with the filing of such complaint, the attorney general is authorized to take proof, issue subpoenas and administer oaths in the manner provided in the civil practice law and rules. Any employer whose employees, or some of them, refuse or threaten to refuse to cooperate with the provisions of this chapter, may file with the commission a verified complaint asking for assistance by conciliation or other remedial action.
II. (a) After the filing of any complaint, one of the commissioners designated by the chair shall make, with the assistance of the commission's staff, prompt investigation in connection therewith; during the course of the investigation, the commission shall encourage the parties to resolve their differences through settlement negotiations; and if such commissioner shall determine after such investigation that probable cause exists for crediting the allegations of the complaint, the commissioner shall immediately endeavor to eliminate the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of by conference, conciliation and persuasion. The members of the commission and its staff shall not disclose what has occurred in the course of such endeavors, provided that the commission may publish the facts in the case of any complaint which has been dismissed, and the terms of conciliation when the complaint has been so disposed of. When the investigating commissioner finds no probable cause to credit the allegations in the complaint, the complaint shall be dismissed, subject to a right of appeal to superior court. To prevail on appeal, the moving party shall establish that the commission decision is unlawful or unreasonable by a clear preponderance of the evidence. The findings of the investigating commissioner upon questions of fact shall be upheld as long as the record contains credible evidence to support them. If it reverses the finding of the investigating commissioner, the superior court shall remand the case for further proceedings in accordance with RSA 354-A:21, II, unless the complainant or respondent elects to proceed with a hearing in superior court pursuant to RSA 354-A:21-a.
(b) In case of failure to eliminate an unlawful discriminatory practice complained of, or in advance thereof, if, in the judgment of the commissioner making the investigation, circumstances so warrant, the commissioner shall cause to be issued and served in the name of the commission, a written notice, together with a copy of such complaint, as the same may have been amended, requiring the person, employer, labor organization or employment agency named in such complaint, hereinafter referred to as respondent, to answer charges of such complaint at a hearing before 3 members of the commission, designated by the chair and sitting as the commission, at a time and place to be fixed by the chair and specified in such notice. The place of any such hearing shall be the office of the commission or such other place as may be designated by it.
(c) The case in support of the complaint may be presented before the commission by the complainant or complainant's representative and the commissioner who shall have previously made the investigation and caused the notice to be issued shall not participate in the hearing except as a witness, nor shall he participate in the subsequent deliberation of the commission in such case; and the aforesaid endeavors at conciliation shall not be received in evidence. The respondent shall file a written verified answer to the complaint and appear at such hearing in person or otherwise, with or without counsel, and submit testimony. The commission or the complainant shall have the power reasonably and fairly to amend any complaint, and the respondent shall have like power to amend his other answer. The commission shall not be bound by the strict rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity. The testimony taken at the hearing shall be under oath and transcribed at the request of any party. The cost of transcription shall be borne by the party requesting the transcript unless the party is indigent, in which case the commission shall pay the cost.
(d) If, upon all the evidence at the hearing, the commission shall find that a respondent has engaged in any unlawful discriminatory practice as defined in this chapter, the commission shall state its findings of fact and shall issue and cause to be served on such respondent an order requiring such respondent to cease and desist from such unlawful discriminatory practice and to take such affirmative action, including, but not limited to, hiring, reinstatement or upgrading of employees, with or without back pay, restoration to membership in any respondent labor organization, or the extension of full, equal and unsegregated accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges to all persons, as in the judgment of the commission, will effectuate the purpose of this chapter and including a requirement for report of the manner of compliance. Such cease and desist orders for affirmative relief may be issued to operate prospectively. The commission may also order compensatory damages to be paid to the complainant by the respondent and, in order to vindicate the public interest, order the respondent to pay an administrative fine. The administrative fine shall be deposited in the general fund. The amount of the administrative fine shall not exceed:
(1) $10,000 if the respondent has not been adjudged to have committed any prior discriminatory practice in any administrative hearing or civil action.
(2) $25,000 if the respondent has been adjudged to have committed a prior discriminatory practice in any administrative hearing or civil action and the adjudication was made no more than 5 years prior to the date of filing the current charge.
(3) $50,000 if the respondent has been adjudged to have committed 2 or more discriminatory practices in any administrative hearings or civil actions and the adjudications were made during the 7-year period preceding the date of filing of the charge.
(e) When issuing an order awarding back pay, the commission shall calculate the back pay award by determining the amount the complainant would have earned but for the unlawful discriminatory practice. The commission shall subtract from that amount any unemployment compensation or interim earnings received by the complainant for the time period covered by the back pay award.
(f) If upon all the evidence the commission shall find that a respondent has not engaged in any such unlawful discriminatory practice, the commission shall state its findings of fact and shall issue and cause to be served on the complainant an order dismissing the said complaint as to such respondent. A copy of its order shall be delivered in all cases to the attorney general, and such other public officers as the commission deems relevant or proper. The commission shall establish rules of practice to govern, expedite, and effectuate the foregoing procedure and its own actions thereunder.
III. Any complaint filed pursuant to this section by an aggrieved person must be filed within 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination. Any complaint filed pursuant to this section by the attorney general or one of the commissioners must be so filed within 180 days after the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice.
IV. In administering this section, the commission shall be exempt from the provisions of RSA 541-A:29, II, but shall close each case or commence adjudicative proceedings on such case under RSA 354-A:21 within 24 months after the filing date of the complaint.
Source. 1992, 224:1-3. 1994, 251:3; 412:44. 2000, 277:3, 4, 5. 2006, 126:3, 4, eff. July 1, 2006.
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