VII EMOTIONAL DISTRESS:
A. Legal Authority For and Purpose of Power to Award Damages
for Emotional Distress:
88. "[D]amages for emotional distress are recoverable under our civil rights statute." Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc. v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 453 N.W.2d 512, 525 (Iowa 1990). A victim of discrimination is to receive "a remedy for his or her complete injury," including damages for emotional distress. Id. at 525-26.
89. The Iowa Supreme Court's observations on the emotional distress resulting from wrongful discharge are equally applicable to the distress resulting from racial harassment:
[Such action] offends standards of fair conduct . . . the [victim of discrimination] may suffer mentally. "Humiliation, wounded pride and the like may cause very acute mental anguish." [citations omitted]. We know of no logical reason why . . . damages should be limited to out-of- pocket loss of income, when the [victim] also suffers causally connected emotional harm. . . . We believe that fairness alone justifies the allowance of a full recovery in this type of tort.
Niblo v. Parr Mfg. Co., 445 N.W.2d 351, 355 (Iowa 1989).
90. The emotional distress sustained by the Complainant is substantial and serious Since even mild emotional distress resulting from discrimination is to be compensated, it is obvious that compensation must be awarded here. Darrell Harvey, 11 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 65, 79 (1994); Alice Peyton, 11 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 98, 124 (1994); Tammy Collins, 11 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 128, 137 (1994); Stacey Davies, 11 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 143, 157 (1994); Rachel Helkenn, 10 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 62, 73 (1990); Robert E. Swanson, 10 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 36, 45 (1989); Ann Redies, 10 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 17, 28 (1989). See Hy Vee , 453 N.W.2d at 525-26(citing Niblo, 445 N.W.2d at 356-57)(adopting reasoning that because public policy requires that employee who is victim of discrimination is to be given a remedy for his complete injury, employee need not show distress is severe in order to be compensated for it)).
B. "Humiliation," "Wounded Pride," "Anger,"
"Hurt," "Frustration," "Discomfort,"
and "Upset" Are All Forms of Compensable Emotional Distress:
91. Among the many forms of emotional distress which may be compensated are "anger," "upset," "hurt," Kentucky Commission on Human Rights v. Fraser, 625 S.W.2d 852, 856 (Ky. 1981); 2 Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Damages for Embarrassment and Humiliation in Discrimination Cases 24-29 (1982)(citing Fraser and 121-129 Broadway Realty v. New York Division of Human Rights, 49 A.D.2d 422, 376 N.Y.S.2d 17 (1975)); see also Gaudry v. Bureau of Labor & Industries, 617 P.2d 668, 670-71 (Or. Ct. App. 1980); "frustration," Gaudry, 617 P.2d at 670-71; see also Boals v. Gray, 577 F.. Supp. 288, 296 (N.D. Ohio 1983); "discomfort," id., "humiliation, wounded pride, and the like." Niblo, 445 N.W.2d at 355. See also Tallarico v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 881 F.2d 566, 571 (8th Cir. 1989)(upset and hurt feelings); Phiffer v. Proud Parrot Motor Hotel, Inc., 648 F.2d 548, 550 (9th Cir. 1980)(upset).
C. Liberal Proof Requirements for Emotional Distress In Civil
92. Emotional distress damages must be proven. Blessum v. Howard County Board of Supervisors, 295 N.W.2d 836, 845 (Iowa 1980); United States v. Balistrieri, 981 F.2d 916, 931 (7th Cir. 1992). These damages must be and have been proven here, as in any civil proceeding, by a preponderance or "greater weight" of the evidence and not by any more stringent standard. Iowa R. App. Pro. 14(f)(6).
93. "Because of the difficulty of evaluating the emotional injuries which result from deprivations of civil rights, courts do not demand precise proof to support a reasonable award of damages for such injuries." Block v. R.H. Macy & Co., Inc., 712 F.2d 1241, 1245 (8th Cir. 1983). Tallarico v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 881 F.2d 566, 570 (8th Cir. 1989); Phillips v. Hunter Trails Community Assn., 685 F.2d 184, 190 (7th Cir. 1982).
94. This reasoning is consistent with the holding of the Iowa Supreme Court:
[O]ur civil rights statute is to be liberally construed to eliminate unfair and discriminatory acts and practices. [Citation omitted]. We therefore hold a civil rights complainant may recover compensable damages for emotional distress without a showing of physical injury, severe distress, or outrageous conduct.
Hy-Vee , 453 N.W.2d at 526 (emphasis added).
D. Emotional Distress May Be Proven By Direct Evidence or Circumstantial
95. Emotional distress may be proved by direct evidence. E.g. Tallarico v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 881 F.2d 566, 571 (8th Cir. 1989)("[emotional distress] may be evidenced by one's conduct and observed by others."). See United States v. Balistrieri, 981 F.2d 916, 932 (7th Cir. 1992)(plaintiff's testimony of humiliation cited as example of direct evidence of distress).
96. In this case there was direct evidence of the emotional distress caused Complainant by the racial harassment. This evidence took the form of his and others' testimony describing his distress and various manifestations of such distress reflected by his behavior. See Findings of Fact Nos.106-110, 112-13. Although other evidence is also relied upon in this case to establish the distress caused by the harassment, "[t]he [complainants'] own testimony may be solely sufficient to establish humiliation or mental distress." Williams v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 660 F.2d 1267, 1273, 27 Fair Empl. Prac. Cases 487, 491 (8th Cir. 1981). See also Crumble v. Blumthal, 549 F.2d 462, 467 (7th Cir. 1977); Smith v. Anchor Building Corp., 536 F.2d 231, 236 (8th Cir. 1976); Phillips v. Butler, 3 Eq. Opp. Hous. Cas. § 15388 (N.D. Ill. 1981); Belton, Remedies in Employment Discrimination Law 415 (1992).
97. Emotional distress may also be established by circumstantial evidence. Tallarico v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 881 F.2d at 571. See Howard v. Adkison, 887 F.2d 134, 139 (8th Cir. 1989)(damages may be proper because distress may be inferred from circumstantial evidence even where "the actual trial testimony contained no formal evidence of actual damage."); Sisneros v.. Nix, 884 F. Supp. 1313, 1344 (S.D. Iowa 1995)(same). See also Phiffer v. Proud Parrot Motor Hotel, Inc., 648 F.2d at 552 (race discrimination against Black male--distress inferred solely from the circumstances). Circumstances from which emotional distress may be inferred include the duration, severity and frequency of the harassment. See Finding of No.111.
98 Of course, both forms of evidence in this case must be weighed together when determining the existence, nature and extent of the emotional distress suffered by the complainant: "[Emotional distress] can be inferred from the circumstances as well as established by the testimony." Seaton v. Sky Realty, 491 F.2d 634, 636-37 (7th Cir. 1974)(quoted with approval in Blessum, 295 N.W.2d at 845 (Iowa 1980)). "[I]n determining whether the evidence of emotional distress is sufficient to support an award of damages, we must look at both the direct evidence of emotional distress and the circumstances of the act that allegedly caused that distress. . . . The more inherently degrading or humiliating the defendant's action is, the more reasonable it is to infer that a person would suffer humiliation or distress from that action; consequently, somewhat more conclusory evidence of emotional distress will be acceptable to support an award for emotional distress." United States v. Balistrieri, 981 F.2d at 932, 933 (emphasis added)(holding that distress damage awards to housing discrimination testers were justified despite the '"somewhat general and conclusory nature" of their testimony because "racial discrimination . . . . is the type of action that one could reasonably expect to humiliate or cause emotional distress to a person."). Since racial harassment involves precisely those kinds of inherently degrading or humiliating actions from which distress may be inferred, the combination of those circumstances and somewhat conclusory testimony (weaker than the evidence in this case) will support an award of emotional distress damages. See id. This approach is consistent with Iowa law, which provides that, even where "the express testimony of distress is not strong," Dickerson v. Young, 332 N.W.2d 93, 99 (Iowa 1983), the presence of other facts which "would inevitably have a strong impact on the emotions of an individual" are substantial evidence of emotional distress. Id.
E. Determining the Amount of Damages for Emotional Distress:
[D]etermining the amount to be awarded for [emotional distress] is a difficult task. As one court has suggested, "compensation for damages on account of injuries of this nature is, of course, incapable of yardstick measurement. It is impossible to lay down any definite rule for measuring such damages.
2 Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Damages for Embarrassment and Humiliation in Discrimination Cases 24-29 (1982)(quoting Randall v. Cowlitz Amusements, 76 P.2d 1017 (Wash. 1938)).
100. Although awards in other cases have little value in determining the amount an award should be in another specific case, Lynch v. City of Des Moines, 454 N.W.2d 827, 836-37 (Iowa 1990), one source lists many examples of such awards, ranging from $500 to $150,000, for emotional distress in discrimination cases. See e.g. Belton, Remedies in Employment Discrimination Law 416 n.78 (1992)(listing awards in 19 cases; 17 of which were for $10,000 or over; 12 of which were for $20,000 or over). Substantial awards have been allowed in Iowa. E.g. Pamela Farren v. Super Value Stores, Inc. , Law No. CL 100-57791, slip. op. at 22 (Polk County District Court February 24, 1994)(judge awarded $80,000 emotional distress damages in sex discrimination discharge case) ; While any award should be tailored to the particular case, one commentator has noted that "a $750 award for mental distress is 'chump change.' Awards must be made which are large enough to compensate the victim of discrimination adequately for the injury suffered." 2 Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Damages for Embarrassment and Humiliation in Discrimination Cases 60-61 (1982).
101. The Iowa Supreme Court recently held that an award of damages for emotional distress in the amount of $20,000 would be adequate in a case where the evidence of distress was based "almost solely" on the evidence of the complainant and her daughter evidencing that the complainant was "severely upset" and "experienc[ed] an inability to sleep" due to retaliatory threats made by her supervisor. City of Hampton v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, No. 235/95-769, slip op. at 9-10 (Iowa September 18, 1996)(reduction of award from $50,000). There was no medical or psychiatric evidence. Id. at 10.
102. Regardless of whether they are characterized as direct or circumstantial evidence, numerous facts have been identified which may indicate the presence and severity of emotional distress. See e.g. 2 Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Damages for Embarrassment and Humiliation in Discrimination Cases 40-42 (1982). Undoubtedly, no complete listing of all such facts is possible. Nor could legal authority be found for each potentially relevant fact.
103. An award of damages for emotional distress may, however, be made in the absence of "evidence of economic or financial loss, or medical evidence of mental or emotional impairment." Seaton v. Sky Realty, 491 F.2d 634, 636 (7th Cir. 1974). See City of Hampton v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, No. 235/95-769, slip op. at 10($20,000 awarded for emotional distress although there was no medical or psychiatric evidence). Nor need there be evidence of an effect on social activities. Marable v. Walker, 704 F.2d 1219, 1220 (11th Cir. 1983).
104. Nevertheless, the evidence of the adverse effect of the discrimination on the Complainant's work, the impact on his family life, his depression, the number of times the Complainant was exposed to behavior inducing embarrassment or humiliation, the discrimination's occurrence in the presence of others, the abusiveness of the actions and language directed toward the Complainant, and his feelings of anger or frustration are among those factors in this case which indicate the existence of serious and substantial emotional distress justifying an award of the magnitude made in this case. See Blessum, 295 N.W.2d at 845 (Iowa 1980)(effect on work, impact on family life); Fellows v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 236 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa Ct. App. 1988)(depression); :Kentucky Comm'n On Human Rights v. Barbour, 587 S.W.2d 849, 852 (Ky. Ct. App. 1979)(number of times complainant exposed to behavior inducing embarrassment or humiliation; whether the acts of humiliation occurred in presence of others or otherwise resulted in public exposure; presence or absence of aggravating factors such as abusive language); 2 Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Damages for Embarrassment and Humiliation in Discrimination Cases at 35, 40-42 (feelings of anger or frustration, effect on work, depression, loss of interest in or patience with one's spouse or children, exposure to outrageous or abusive conduct; number of times complainant exposed to discrimination; whether discriminatory acts occurred in presence of others). Cf. Dobbs, Handbook on the Law of Remedies 530-31 & n.24 (1973)("The amount of the recovery is usually based on the severity of the actions and language used by the defendant.")(quoting Sutherland v. Kroger Co., 110 S.E.2d 716 (W.Va. 1959)).
45. The two primary determinants of the amount awarded for damages for emotional distress are the severity of the distress and the duration of the distress. Bean v. Best, 93 N.W.2d 403, 408 (S.D. 1958)(citing Restatement of Torts § 905). "'In determining this, all relevant circumstances are considered, including sex, age, condition of life, and any other fact indicating the susceptibility of the injured person to this type of harm.' And continuing 'The extent and duration of emotional distress produced by the tortious conduct depend upon the sensitiveness of the injured person.'" Id. (quoting Restatement of Torts S 905). [See also Restatement (Second) of Torts S 905 (comment i).]
Dorene Polton, 10 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 152, 166 (1992). The severity and duration of distress, as well as other factors, were taken into account in making the damages award in this case.
106. The following factors were also taken into account in determining the amount of the award for emotional distress damages:
31. A wrongdoer takes the person he injures as he finds him. McBroom v. State, 226 N.W.2d 41, 45 (Iowa 1975). A previously disabled person injured by the acts of a wrongdoer "is entitled to such increased damages as are the natural and proximate result of the wrongful act." Id. at 46; Keeton, Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts 292 (1984). This principle applies to psychological and emotional injuries. McBroom v. State, 226 N.W.2d 41, 45 (Iowa 1975).
32. On the other hand, the wrongdoer is not required to pay damages for emotional distress resulting from sources completely independent of its conduct. See Keeton, Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts 292, 345, 348-50 (1984). Cf. Lynch v. City of Des Moines, 454 N.W.2d 827, 836 (Iowa 1990)(upholding award of emotional distress damages in sexual harassment case against appeal of damages as inadequate--noting some distress due to other turmoil in complainant's life unrelated to discriminatory actions of employer). With items such as pain and suffering, where the extent of the harm is almost incapable of definite proof, the factfinder is granted wide latitude in determining what amount of damage is attributable to the wrongdoer despite the absence of specific proof. Keeton, Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts 348- 350 & nn.47, 49 (1984).
Royd Jackman, XI Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 70, 82 (1991).See Finding of Fact 114.
VIII. HEARING COSTS:
107. An administrative rule of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission provides, in relevant part, that: "If the complainant or the commission prevails in the hearing, the respondent shall pay the 'contested case costs' incurred by the commission." 161 IAC 4.7(1). "Contested case costs" include only:
a. The daily charge of the court reporter for attending and transcribing the hearing.
b. All mileage charges of the court reporter for traveling to and from the hearing.
c. All travel time charges of the court reporter for traveling to and from the hearing.
d. The cost of the original of the transcripts of the hearing.
e. Postage incurred by the administrative law judge in sending by mail (regular or certified) any papers which are made part of the record.
161 IAC 4.7(3).
108. Since the Commission and the complainant have prevailed in this case against Respondent Goken, an order awarding contested case costs is appropriate. The record should be held open so a bill of costs may be submitted after this decision becomes final. Connie Zesch-Luense, 12 Iowa Civil Rights Commission Case Reports 160, 173 (1994).