(a) If not sooner resolved, the investigator, upon completion of his investigation, shall submit to ADECA a statement of the facts disclosed by his investigation and recommend either that the complaint be dismissed or that a panel of office members be designated to hear the complaint. ADECA, after review of the case file and the statement and recommendation of the investigator, shall issue an order either of dismissal or for a hearing, which is not subject to judicial or other further review.
(b) If the order is for dismissal, ADECA shall mail a copy of the order to the complainant and the respondent at their last known addresses. The complainant may bring an action against the respondent in circuit court within 90 days of the date of the dismissal or within one year from the date of the violation alleged, whichever occurs later, to enforce the rights granted or protected by this chapter and to seek relief as provided for in Section 24-8-14.
(c)(1) If the order is for a hearing, ADECA shall attach to it a notice and a copy of the complaint and require the respondent to answer the complaint at a hearing at a time and place specified in the notice and shall serve upon the respondent a copy of the order, the complaint, and the notice.
(2) Either party may elect to have the claims asserted in the complaint decided in a civil action. ADECA notice must be sent to all parties and inform them of their right to take civil action. An election must be made within 20 days after receipt of the notice. A party making this election shall notify ADECA and all other parties. If an election is made for a civil action, ADECA shall, within 30 days from the date of election, commence and maintain a civil action pursuant to Section 24-8-14 on behalf of the aggrieved person.
(d) At any time before a hearing, a complaint may be amended by ADECA upon the request of the investigator or of the complainant or of the respondent. Complaints may be amended during a hearing only upon a majority vote of the panel of office members for the hearing.
(e) Upon request by any party, ADECA shall issue appropriate subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum to any witnesses or other custodians of documents desired to be present at the hearing, or at prehearing depositions, unless ADECA determines that issuance of the subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum would be unreasonably or unduly burdensome.
(f) Upon notification by any party that any party or witness has failed to permit access, failed to comply with a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum, refused to have his deposition taken, refused to answer interrogatories, or otherwise refused to allow discovery, the office, upon notice to the party or witness, shall apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for an order requiring discovery and other good faith compliance unless the office determines that the discovery would be unreasonably or unduly burdensome.
(g) ADECA shall designate a panel of three persons to hear the complaint.
(h) At any hearing held pursuant to this section, the case in support of the complaint must be presented before the panel by one or more of the offices' employees or agents or by legal representatives of the complaining party. Endeavors at conciliation by the investigator may not be received into evidence nor otherwise made known to the members of the panel.
(i) The respondent shall submit a written answer to the complaint and appear at the hearing in person or by counsel and may submit evidence. The respondent may amend his answer reasonably and fairly.
(j) The complainant must be permitted to be present and submit evidence.
(k) Proceedings under this section are subject to the provisions of the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act, and in the case of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act, the provisions of the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act shall govern. A recording of the proceedings must be made, which may be transcribed subsequently upon request and payment of a reasonable fee by the complainant or the respondent. The fee must be set by the office or upon motion of the panel, in which case copies of the transcription must be made available to the complainant or the respondent upon request and payment of a reasonable fee to be set by the office.
(l) If, upon all the evidence at the hearing, the panel shall find that the respondent has engaged in any unlawful discriminatory practice, it shall state its findings of fact and serve upon the complainant and the respondent in the name of the office an opinion and order for appropriate relief which may include that the unlawful discriminatory practice be discontinued, actual damages, civil penalties which may not be greater than civil penalties established by the Federal Fair Housing Act in Section 812 and reasonable attorney's fees. The office may retain jurisdiction of the case until it is satisfied of compliance by the respondent of its order.
(m) If, upon all the evidence at the hearing, the panel finds that the respondent has not engaged in any unlawful discriminatory practice, the panel shall state its findings of fact and serve upon the complainant and the respondent an opinion and order dismissing the complaint as to the respondent. A prevailing respondent may apply to the office for an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
(n) A copy of the opinion and order of the office shall be delivered in all cases to such other public officers as the office considers proper. Copies of the opinion and order must be available to the public for inspection upon request, and copies must be made available to any person upon payment of a reasonable fee set by the office.
(o)(1) If an application for review is made to the office within 14 days from the date the order of the office has been given, the office, for good cause shown, shall review the order and evidence, receive further evidence, rehear the parties or their representatives, and if proper, amend the order.
(2) Either party to the dispute, within 30 days after receipt of notice to be sent by registered mail of the order, but not after that time, may appeal from the decision of the office to the circuit court of the county in which the hearing occurred, or in which the respondent resides or has his principal office. In case of an appeal from the decision of the office, the appeal shall operate as a supersedeas for 30 days only, unless otherwise ordered by the court, and after that the respondent is required to comply with the order involved in the appeal or certification until the questions at issue in it have been determined fully in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(3) The office may institute a proceeding for enforcement of its order of subsection (l), or its amended order of subdivision (1) after 30 days from the day of the order, by filing a petition in the circuit court of the county in which the hearing occurred, or where any person against whom the order is entered resides or transacts business.
(4) If no appeal under subdivision (2) is initiated, the office may obtain a decree of the court for enforcement of its order upon a showing that a copy of the petition for enforcement was served upon the party subject to the dictates of the office's order.
Last modified: May 3, 2021