Friday, July 18 – Iowa Supreme Court
In a case that was originally brought in October 2007, Plaintiffs, fourteen African-Americans, brought a class action suit against the State, including thirty-seven different executive branch departments, under the Federal Civil Rights Act and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
In their Petition, Plaintiffs alleged that the State unlawfully and systematically discriminates against African Americans in employment. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the State because, even though the statistical evidence showed that African-Americans did not fare as well in certain pre-screening, and interview activities as did their white counterparts, the trial court found that the Plaintiffs did not meet their burden to prove discrimination.
In an 83 page opinion that reads like a social science dissertation at times, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court, holding that Plaintiffs did not meet their burden of establishing that the underlying documents did not provide sufficient information to allow employment practices to be separated for meaningful statistical analysis, and therefore, Defendant State of Iowa was entitled to summary judgment under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Decision at the link, below.
If you’re from our great state, don’t get too upset: Seventeen states failed.
California, not unsurprisingly, came in first, followed by Connecticut, and Hawaii for the top three slots.
The survey (at the link) was performed by the National Partnership of Women & Families. The group is a Washington, D.C., 501(c)(3) who claims as its charge to “promote fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of their jobs and families.”
The survey seems mostly built on analysis of the text of state laws, based on review of laws that meet the following criteria:
- State laws that exceed the FMLA in guaranteeing job protection or pay to women and men who take a leave of absence from their job to care for a new child (“parental” leave) or a spouse or partner disabled by pregnancy (“family” leave)
- State laws that provide birth mothers a period of disability leave to prepare for and recover from pregnancy and childbirth (“medical leave” or “maternity leave”)
- State laws that require employer-provided sick, vacation or personal leave to be available for workers to care for a new child or an ill spouse or partner (“flexible use of sick time”)
- State laws that exceed federal standards in guaranteeing pregnant women the right to reasonable accommodations at work when pregnancy-related physical limitations necessitate such accommodations (“reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers”)
- State laws that exceed federal standards in enabling new mothers to continue to provide breast milk to a new baby after returning to work (“workplace rights for nursing mothers”)
Iowa received kudos because we grant greater access to pregnancy disability leave under Iowa’s anti-discrimination law than under federal law. This is true because Iowa law prohibits employers with four or more employees from denying a woman’s request for up to eight weeks of leave to address pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical disabilities. In Iowa, the requested leave must be granted regardless of a woman’s tenure on the job (whereas the FMLA requires a certain level of months of service and hours worked) or the number of hours worked.
Further, because same sex marriage is legal, same sex couples in Iowa have access to FMLA leave.
Given that 17 states failed, maybe we should be happy we even “passed”?