Digest of Commission Decisions
July 1, 1993-June 30, 1994
The Conunission rendered seven final decisions during the 1993-94 fiscal year, resulting from six cases that went to public hearing. The seventh decision awarded attorney's fees after a finding of discrimination.
Violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act were found in five cases: two sex discrimination employment cases; one sex discrimination housing case; one race discrimination housing case; and one retaliation case. Awards in these cases total $205,937.51, exclusive of interest at 10% per annum, for back pay, emotional distress, attorney's fees, other compensatory damages sustained by complainants, and hearing costs. No violation was found in a sixth case alleging race discrimination in housing.
These awards do not reflect the full impact of the decisions. The decisions are designed to prevent future race or sex discrimination or retaliation. Remedies include cease and desist orders, the posting of notices informing applicants, employees, or tenants of their rights, the development of internal procedures to prevent sex discrimination, required reading to fan-iiliarize respondents with civil rights mandates, the placement of equal opportunity notices in housing and job advertising, and maintenance of logs of prospective tenants.
On October 12, 1993, the Commission decided the case of Maxine Faye Boomgarden and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. Hardin County Veterans' Commission Board and Hardin County Board of Supervisors. The Commission adopted a proposed decision finding Respondents failed to hire Complainant Boomgarden, a female, for the combined position of Director of Veterans Affairs and Emergency Management Coordinator, because they preferred having a less qualified male in the position. Furthermore, by giving preference to a veteran when such preference was not required by law, the Respondents used an employment practice which has a "disparate impact" on females, i.e. it disproportionately screens out female applicants. This practice is not justified by business necessity as nonveterans could perform the duties of the position.
Boomgarden was awarded $18,684.73 in back pay and benefits. She was subsequently awarded $14,718.00 in attorney's fees and $991.26 in costs. Respondents are required to develop written policies prohibiting sex discrimination and ensuring that veterans preferences are only used in the manner prescribed by law.
On January 23, 1994, the Commission decided the case of Darrell Harvey and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. Sandy Caldwell. The Commission reversed, in part, a proposed decision finding that no discrimination had been proven. The Commission found Complainant Harvey proved (a) that Respondent Caldwell failed to renew Harvey's lease for rental of an apartment due to his sex, and (b) that Caldwell stated she preferred to rent to females. The Commission also found that Harvey failed to prove that Caldwell rented to women at a lower rate than males. Remedies awarded were: damages for increased rent and utilities ($104.39); telephone connection charges ($18.00); gasoline expended in moving ($2.50); and loss of time ($192.00).
On March 1, 1994, the Commission decided the case of Vincent Lewis and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. Hurl Knight. The Commission adopted a proposed decision finding that Complainant Vincent Lewis failed to prove that Respondent Hurl Knight either rejected his offer to buy a house or compelled or coerced another to reject his offer because of Lewis's race. The complaint was dismissed.
On May 26, 1994, the Conurfission decided the case of Alice Peyton and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. Board of Supervisors of Buchanan County. The Commission adopted a proposed decision finding that Complainant Peyton, a female jail administrator, had been required to perform work equal to that of both her male predecessor and successor for less pay due to her sex.
The Commission approved awards of $23,134.37 in back pay and $2,000.00 for emotional distress. The Board was ordered to cease and desist from sex discrimination, to post copies of equal opportunity posters, to develop and post a written equal pay policy, and to develop an internal complaint procedure to consider unequal pay discrimination complaints.
On May 26, 1994, the Commission also decided the case of Dorothy A. Abbas and Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. City of Hampton. Complainant Dorothy Abbas had filed a retaliation complaint in 1988 against Respondent City of Hampton and others. Tle other respondents were dismissed in exchange for the City of Hampton's agreement to waive "any argument that the City of Hampton is not legally responsible for the actions of the entities and/or persons dismissed." In March of 1993, the Commission, by a three to two vote, approved a motion which (1) dismissed the case, (2) reversed a proposed decision which had found retaliation, (3) struck all findings of fact in the proposed decision, and (4) made no provision for findings of fact or conclusions of law. A final order was issued which implemented the action taken by the Commission.
The Complainant appealed. The Polk County District Court remanded the case to the Commission for a decision with findings of fact and conclusions of law. On May 26, 1994, the Commission voted three to two to adopt the original proposed decision. Respondent's subsequent application for rehearing was denied by a six to zero vote. By these actions, the Commission found that the City of Hampton retaliated against Abbas through repeated threats by her supervisor to sue her for what she said in a prior complaint; her supervisor's refusing to speak with her or provide her with information required to do her work; decreasing her work assignments; increased scrutiny of her work; reduction of her position from full-time to part-time; and the creation of a hostile working environment.
Abbas was awarded $63,775.63 in back pay, and $50,000 in emotional distress damages. The City was required to return Abbas to full-time status and to post equal opportunity notices. The Respondent has appealed the case to the Franklin County District Court.
On June 24, 1994, the Commission decided the case of Tammy R. Collins and Larry W. Collins and Iowa Civil Rights Commission vs. Howard C. Flook. The Commission adopted a proposed decision finding Complainants Larry and Tammy Collins were refused rental of an apartment in Des Moines by Respondent Howard Flood, owner, because they were an interracial couple. Remedies awarded included a cease and desist order, reporting requirements, $15,000 for Tanu-ny Collins, and $15,000 for Larry Collins in emotional distress damages. The Commission also imposed a civil penalty of $2,000 and assessed hearing costs of $340.00 against Howard Flook.