Editor's note: The following comment was posted by Jack Roberts on another thread. Roberts is a former Labor Commissioner in Oregon (and a Republican). It's a good explanation of the Bureau of Labor and Industries' civil rights enforcement process via administrative law. This post is an excerpt of the comment, which can be read it in its entirety here--Carla
BOLI is able to use an administrative enforcement process, which means you can use a hearings official instead of a judge and the complainant doesn't have to hire a lawyer. It is much quicker and less expensive than either civil or criminal enforcement in court.
After an initial investigation, if BOLI finds that there is good cause to go forward with the complaint, then the complainant has the option to withdraw from the BOLI process and file a new complaint in federal court. That's where the really good cases usually go because the federal court's hand out much bigger awards and the lawyers are willing to work on a contingency basis. But federal courts generally require you "exhaust" your administrative remedies first, which means you get BOLI to agree not to pursue their case (which BOLI always does, gain saving taxpayer's money).
Because this is such an efficient system, the EEOC contracts with BOLI to handle Oregon cases where the discrimination claimed violates both state and federal law.
All in all, this is a particularly good system for individual defendants who want their complaint to be heard but don't have the money or can't interest an attorney in taking the case on a contingent fee basis. It is also much better for small businesses that bear the cost of responding to frivolous complaints.