If the PDC initiates an investigation, a case status review (initial hearing) must be held within 90 days of the complaint being filed. For complaints requiring an investigation, both the complainant and respondent are notified that the matter has been elevated to a formal investigation, and that information is updated on the PDC's enforcement page of the website.

The length of time required to investigate and resolve a complaint depends on many factors such as: (1) the nature and complexity of the allegations; (2) the amount and quality of evidence provided by the complainant; (3) the ease or difficulty of obtaining a response and any additional information; and (4) the availability of PDC staff given the number of other pending complaints already under investigation.

During an investigation, if at any time PDC staff determines there is no evidence of an actual violation, the executive director or the commission may dismiss the complaint without any formal action taken by the commission.

During the course of the investigation, commission staff typically creates a report of investigation, and makes recommendations to the executive director for resolution of the case including what further action, if any, should be taken. The executive director makes a report to the commission at its monthly meeting concerning case status reviews.

Deferred enforcement

The chair or chair's designee commissioner may authorize deferred enforcement following: (1) an initial hearing (case status review); (2) an investigation but prior to staff issuing a notice of administrative charges for an adjudicative proceeding; or (3) after a notice of administrative charges have been issued, but prior to an adjudicative proceeding. (WAC 390-37-075)

The executive director will recommend to the chair or the chair's designee commissioner the conditions of a deferred enforcement, which will be clearly defined and agreed to by the respondent, along with the consequences for failure to meet any of the conditions of the deferral.

Any negotiations between the parties concerning deferred enforcement will be informal and without prejudice to rights of the respondent in the negotiations. The executive director or designee (PDC staff), with the concurrence of the chair or the chair's designee commissioner, will document the facts and the conditions of the deferred enforcement in writing to the respondent, along with the consequences for the failure to meet any of the conditions of the deferral.

The agreement will be signed by the executive director and the respondent, and the respondent will be notified that any administrative charges issued in the matter are stayed pending satisfaction of the deferral conditions. Once the conditions of the deferral have been met by the respondent, the complaint will be closed with no further investigation or action.