Legal Memorandum: ICRC Findings and Claims for Employment Discrimination

Issue: Do the finding of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission have a binding effect on a claimant’s potential common law claims for employment and discrimination claims?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Employee Law
Keywords: Iowa Civil Rights Commissions (ICRC); Employment discrimination claim
Jurisdiction: Federal, Iowa
Cited Cases: 577 N.W.2d 862; 829 N.W.2d 190; 578 F. Supp. 2d 1178
Cited Statutes: Iowa Code § 216.6(1)(a), 216.15; Iowa Admin. Code r. 161-3.10(1); Iowa Code § 216.16(3)(a); Iowa Admin. Code r. 161-3.10(2), 161-3.10(4), 161-3.10(5)
Date: 06/01/2015

Iowa Code § 216.6(1)(a) states:

1.  It shall be an unfair or discriminatory practice for any:

a.  Person to refuse to hire, accept, register, classify, or refer for employment, to discharge any employee, or to otherwise discriminate in employment against any applicant for employment or any employee because of the age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability of such applicant or employee, unless based upon the nature of the occupation. If a person with a disability is qualified to perform a particular occupation, by reason of training or experience, the nature of that occupation shall not be the basis for exception to the unfair or discriminating practices prohibited by this subsection.

(emphasis added). 

The ICRA requires that a person alleging discrimination must begin by filing a claim with the Iowa Civil Rights Commissions (ICRC):  “A person claiming to be aggrieved by an unfair or discriminatory practice must initially seek an administrative relief by filing a complaint with the commission in accordance with section 216.15.”*FN1  Iowa Code § 216.16(1); see also D.L. v. Waukee Cmty. Sch. Dist., 578 F. Supp. 2d 1178, 1191 (S.D. Iowa 2008) (citing Iowa Code § 216.16(1)) (dismissing complaint where plaintiff failed to exhausted administrative remedies under the IRCA).  After properly filing the complaint,

a complainant may subsequently commence an action for relief in the district court if all of the following conditions have been satisfied:

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