Iowa Employment Law Blog

Iowa Employment Law Blog

Alert and inform about legal issues, risks, and solutions relating to employees

Tag Archives: discrimination

Summary Judgement in Employment Discrimination Cases May Be Making a Comeback in Iowa State Court

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Iowa Appellate Courts, Litigation and Trials
As we have written here many times, summary judgment is an important tool for defendants in employment discrimination cases.   Studies have shown that in federal court, summary judgment is granted to defendants in employment discrimination cases more than in any other type of case.  These studies confirm the experience of most employment lawyers who try… Continue Reading

Court Affirms Six-Figure Verdict to Nursing Mother Who Quit Because of Employer’s Failure to Provide Suitable Breastfeeding Accommodation

Posted in Litigation and Trials, Sex Discrimination, Title VII
Employers that accommodate employees’ temporary disabilities should consider extending the practice to nursing mothers returning to work following maternity leave.   That’s the lesson of a recent opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit  (Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 11th Cir., 9/7/2017)    In Hicks, a City police department’s insistence that… Continue Reading

Have Big Jury Verdicts in Discrimination Cases Suddenly Become the New Normal in Iowa?

Posted in Litigation and Trials
It’s been a difficult three months for central Iowa employers.   May, June, and July each saw a million dollar plus plaintiff verdict in an employment discrimination lawsuit.    One such verdict in these parts is notable, but three in three months is unheard of until now.  Back in January, we noticed juries in other parts of… Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit the Latest to Rule Title VII Does Not Cover Discrimination Based Upon Sexual Orientation

Posted in Sex Discrimination, Title VII, U.S. Supreme Court
Whether Title VII protects employees from discrimination based upon sexual orientation is one of the most contentious employment law issues being litigated in the federal courts today.    EEOC contends Title VII covers sexual orientation, and a handful of district courts have agreed.  But, as of today, every U.S. Court of Appeal to consider the question… Continue Reading

Does the ADA Require Reassignment to a Vacant Position as a Reasonable Accommodation?

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
It’s an all too common situation: an employee’s medical condition results in permanent restrictions that prevent the employee from performing essential job functions that she used to be able to do.   It is not reasonable to modify the job so the employee can keep the position.   There is a vacancy in another department for which… Continue Reading

Iowa Employers Should Re-Examine Policies on Pregnancy Accommodation

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Sex Discrimination, U.S. Supreme Court
How to best accommodate pregnant employees is a frequent challenge Iowa employers face.    Pregnant employees may be entitled to protection under the laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, as well as those requiring equal treatment based upon gender and disability.  Many employers have tried to walk this fine line with policies that allow… Continue Reading

Don’t Assume An Applicant Is Not Qualified Because a Doctor Says So…

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
A federal district court in Michigan recently granted summary judgment for the plaintiff, (you read that correctly), ruling that the employer was liable for disability discrimination as a matter of law. (Lafata v. Dearborn Heights Sch. Dist. No.7 (E.D. Mich. 12/11/2013)).   A plaintiff hardly ever files for summary judgment in an employment case, let alone… Continue Reading

Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Against Catholic Diocese of Sioux City Tests the Limits of the Ministerial Exception

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Religion
The CFO of Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools in Sioux City claims he was terminated because he is not Catholic.   He recently sued the Diocese, the school, and the Bishop alleging his termination violated the law against discrimination on the basis of religion. Does he have a case? Courts in the United States have uniformly recognized a… Continue Reading

Reinstatement of Jury Award After Employer Victory Shows Failure to Mitigate Defense Hard to Prove

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Litigation and Trials
The best outcome to a discrimination lawsuit from the employer’s perspective is to win outright—for the judge or jury to find that the employer did not unlawfully discriminate. But, even if you lose, there is a “Plan B” defense—the failure to mitigate damages.   An employee who is terminated (or not hired in the first place) can… Continue Reading

Employee Must Request Extension of Leave to Avoid Application of No-Fault Leave Policy

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
Fixed or no-fault leave policies were once considered easy way to manage attendance and long term leave of absence issues.   Once the employee reaches the maximum number of absences, or is gone the maximum number of weeks on medical leave, the employee is terminated; no questions asked, no exceptions.   The benefit of these kinds of… Continue Reading

Should We Take Seriously the Claim that Pink Paint in a Locker Room Is Sex Discrimination?

Posted in Sex Discrimination, Title VII
Last week, the co-founder of a Minnesota based organization called “Gender Justice” accused the Iowa football team of “pink shaming” its opponents and engaging in what she calls “cognitive bias.”    Jill Gaulder, who also happens to be a former UI professor, claims the infamous pink visitor’s locker room at Kinnick Stadium is “sexist”, “homophobic”, and may… Continue Reading

Injunction Against HHS Coverage Mandate Raises Question Whether Employers Have Right to Religious Accommodation

Posted in Religion
Just days before the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate went into effect, a federal district court in Colorado issued a temporary injunction exempting a Denver based company from its application. (See ruling in Newland v. Sebelius here). The controversial HHS rule requires all employer provided health coverage, with limited exceptions for certain religious organizations, to cover FDA approved contraceptive methods… Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Finds that Public Employee’s Gender Discrimination Claim Not Subject to Time Limits of Title VII

Posted in Eighth Circuit, Sex Discrimination, Title VII
Crystal Henley enrolled in the Kansas City Police Academy in September 2005. By November 8, she was forced to leave and was not able to complete her training to become a police officer.   During her short time at the Academy, Henley claims she was treated more harshly than male trainees, subject to sexual harassment, and even… Continue Reading

Similarly Situated in All Relevant Aspects

Posted in Litigation and Trials, Race Discrimination, Title VII
Very seldom is there overt evidence an employer discriminated on the basis of race, sex, disability, etc.   Most of the time plaintiff employees have to prove their claim by showing they were treated less favorably than similarly situated employees who were not in the protected class.   For example, if there is evidence the employer imposed… Continue Reading

NAACP’s Criticism of Iowa Civil Rights Commission is Misplaced

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Race Discrimination
Two local branches of the NAACP recently issued a report criticizing the Iowa Civil Rights Commission because of the low percentage of “probable cause” findings in discrimination complaints filed with the agency.   Although the report was issued December 31, it was recently publicized in a series of three stories appearing over the course of one… Continue Reading

Supreme Court, Executive Branch Take Opposite Approach on Religious Accomodation

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Religion, Title VII, U.S. Supreme Court
We have written many times here about an employer’s obligation to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, so as not to unlawfully discriminate on the basis of their religion. Indeed, according to EEOC statistics, claims of religious discrimination by employees are increasing at a higher rate than most other forms of discrimination. Much less… Continue Reading

Political Discrimination Case Involving UI Law School is Making Waves

Posted in Eighth Circuit, Litigation and Trials
In my practice I frequently represent counties, municipalities, school districts and other public entities.   Just like their counterparts in the private sector, public employees are protected against discrimination because of race, sex, age, religion, disability, and other protected statuses. However, public employees have one important right their private sector brethren do not share: the right under… Continue Reading

Judge’s Pregnancy Discrimination Ruling Prompts Debate About Work-Life Balance

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Sex Discrimination, Title VII
Last week a federal judge in the Southern District of New York Judge dismissed the EEOC’s long running sex and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against financial media company Bloomberg, LP.    EEOC claimed Bloomberg engaged in a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against pregnant women and mothers returning from maternity leave by reducing their pay, demoting them in title, removing… Continue Reading

Wal-Mart v. Dukes May Bar Class Action Race Discrimination Suit Against the State of Iowa

Posted in Litigation and Trials, Race Discrimination, U.S. Supreme Court
Wal-Mart v. Dukes, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, could derail a class action race discrimination case against the State of Iowa that has been pending since 2007 (See our posts here and here on the Wal-Mart case).    The Iowa case involves 32 named plaintiffs who claim the State maintained hiring and promotion… Continue Reading

Should the Decision to Terminate an Employee Who Uses the “N-word” Depend Upon the Employee’s Race?

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Race Discrimination
A federal judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently waded into this thorny subject. The case is Burlington v. News Corp., in which a white television reporter for the Fox affiliate in Philadelphia alleges he was terminated for using the “n-word”.  The suit claims black employees who also had uttered the word were not even disciplined. It all started… Continue Reading

Recent 8th Circuit Case Likely to Encourage Continued Migration of Age Discrimination Claims to State Court

Posted in Age Discrimination, Litigation and Trials
We have discussed in this blog before the migration of discrimination claims to Iowa state courts rather than federal courts.   The trend is driven by a number of factors, including the recognition in 2005 of the right to a jury trial under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) and the greater propensity of federal courts… Continue Reading