The Division investigates formal complaints filed by people who believe they have been discriminated against. If it finds a complaint is justified, the Division will attempt to settle the complaint by conference and conciliation, and to permanently correct any discriminatory practices.
The Human Rights Commission, a Human Rights Commissioner, the Attorney General or a States Attorney may begin the complaint and investigation process when they have reason to believe a person is violating South Dakota law.
The role of the Human Rights Division does not include taking sides. We do not represent the individual filing a charge of discrimination. Nor do we defend the party being charged.
The Division's job is to act as an independent fact-finder by conducting an investigation to determine whether discrimination took place. We try to investigate with the least amount of interference, while still fulfilling our responsibilities.
Investigations are often handled by telephone and by mail, but on-site investigations also occur. The Division typically conducts investigations by voluntary compliance. However, we do have subpoena authority.
Upon completion of an investigation, each party will receive a written report containing a summary and analysis of the facts, and a decision. If we have found that discrimination occurred, the Division will make every attempt to settle the matter. If this effort fails, either party can choose to take the matter to Circuit Court within 20 days. If Circuit Court is not chosen, the matter is scheduled for a public hearing in front of the South Dakota Commission of Human Rights, which consists of five members appointed by the Governor.