Under a proposal approved by the Rapid City Council, members of the Human Relations Commission now have the local authority to enforce violations of anti-discrimination laws.
The group can now subpoena witnesses as part of investigations into discrimination. The commission can order mediation and require a business to hire an employee, rehire or promote an employee with back pay. Their decisions then could be enforced in the courts.
Initially, there was concern by some City Council members over the lack of training required for the commission members.
Wade Nyberg, Assistant City Attorney, says the best aspect of this new power is people who file a complaint are now protected from retaliation.
"Prior from this ordinance change there was really no way for the commission to protect someone that filed a complaint from having adverse consequences from doing so," said Nyberg.