Legal Staff

Roxanne Barton Conlin

Assistant Attorney General, Head of Civil Rights Division Department of Justice


Leo Karn, William M. Murray

Staff Attorneys


Public Hearings

When efforts to conciliate fail, the Commission makes a determination to take the case to public hearing. At this time, the case is announced publicly; a hearing officer is chosen; place and date are chosen. During the 1974-75 fiscal year, five cases were selected for public hearing. However, only four were heard since one case was conciliated before the public hearing date.

The four cases heard were:

Overton v. City of Davenport, CP #1527:

Black male complainant filed against respondent for terminating him from employment for reason of race. This case went to hearing on November 20, 1974. Decision rendered was in favor of Complainant. Respondent was ordered to pay back wages and to submit its affirmative action plan to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission for review and approval to assure that further discriminatory practices are eliminated. Respondent did appeal the finding. Case is now pending in District Court.


Jefferson v. Ms. Bess Ingles, d/b/a Gaslight Club, CP #2248:

Complainant, an American Indian, alleged that he was the victim of discrimination due to the fact that the Gaslight Club refused to serve him beer. A hearing was held March 3, 1975. The Commission found that the refusal to serve Mr. Jefferson was racially discriminatory in nature, being based upon dehumanizing stereotyped characteristics assigned to American Indians as such. The Gaslight Club was directed to serve all customers regardless of race, color, creed, religion and sex. No appeal has been made by the Respondent. This finding was submitted and approved by the Commission on June 12, 1975.


Denison v. City of Atlantic, CP #1504:

Complainant alleged that while serving as a Police Matron, a job classified by Statute as equivalent for pay purposes to Police Officer, she did not receive the same compensation. A hearing was held on March 18, 1975. The Commission on July 9, 1975 ordered for the Complainant to be awarded money equal to the amount she was entitled to receive if given equal pay with Patrolmen for the period of November 1, 1971 to April 11, 1973. No appeal has been made by the Respondent at the close of this reporting period.


Leonard v. City of Keokuk CP #1045:

White female complainant alleged that she was not given an authorized pay raise commensurate with male employees. Public hearing was held on May 6, 1975. Settlement was made during the hearing and the case was closed without any further finding.


Court Cases


Following a public hearing, a final decision is rendered by the Commission. Both the Complainant and the Respondent have the right to appeal to the District Court in their respective geographic district. As of June 30, 1975, three cases were pending in the District Courts of Iowa--two on appeal by the Respondent and one by the Complainant. These cases were:


Bunner v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission: A female Complainant alleged that she had been denied a position as a welder because of her sex. The Commission made a determination that the Respondent did not engage in any discriminatory or unfair practices. The Complainant has appealed her case to District Court.


City of Des Moines Police Department v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Moore: Complainant, a female, was refused application to position of patrolman because she failed to meet the height and weight standards, those being 5 feet, 9 inches, and 149 pounds. Respondent was asked to establish non-discriminatory validated standards. Case has been under appeal since the last reporting period.


City of Davenport v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Overton:

See page 23 for case summary already listed under Public Hearings.



During the 1974-75 fiscal year, only one case was fully settled in District Court. At the close of the last annual report two cases were pending. The one remains in District Court at the close of this fiscal year (Moore v. City of Des Moines Police Department).


The case settled was:

Haile v. Bon Aire Trailer Court: Complainants, a black man and his white wife, decided to purchase a trailer in the Respondent's trailer court. The sellers sold the trailer to Complainants but the Respondents did not allow them to leave the trailer on the lot. Complaints were filed by the sellers and the buyers. A public hearing was held in 1970, with a ruling in favor of the Complainants. Respondent appealed to District Court. The appeal was settled in District Court. The Respondent signed an agreement to cease and desist any discriminatory activities and to comply with the equal housing laws.




Two cases were settled in the Supreme Court during the 1975 fiscal year. Both settlements were in favor of the Complainants on the issue of maternity leave.


Iowa Civil Rights Commission and Heinen v. Johnston Community School District. Complainant was denied teaching privileges due to pregnancy and was denied accumulated disability pay for a period of time when she was physically disabled as a result of childbirth. Public hearing found for the Complainant. The decision was appealed to District Court by Respondent and the Judge found for the School District. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission appealed to the Supreme Court and won the case. Complainant received a settlement and the school district agreed to revise their maternity and sick leave policies consistent with the law.


Cedar Rapids School District v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Joan Parr and Judy McCarthy, McCarthy was required to take an early maternity leave and Parr was terminated because she was pregnant and had not completed the two-year employment requirement for maternity leave privileges. The Cedar Rapids Human Rights Commission held a public hearing and found for the teachers. The school district appealed to District Court on the grounds that the Cedar Rapids City Ordinance was unconstitutional.

The Cedar Rapids School District filed a special petition for a Declaratory Judgment in District Court against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. The Judge ruled in favor of the teachers and the School District appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on March 19, 1975 decided that female teachers have a right to use accumulated sick leave for absences due to pregnancy and childbirth. The Supreme Court further states, "the maternity leave regulation violates the Iowa Civil Rights law and imposes unlawful employment-related sexually discriminatory restrictions upon female teachers." Settlement was made to both teachers and the Cedar Rapids School District made necessary policy changes for sick leave to include maternity benefits. Pregnancy is now to be treated, for purposes of paid time off, in the same regard as any other disability.

This decision is viewed by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission as a landmark case for the elimination of sex discrimination in the State of Iowa.



Only one case remains on the docket in the Supreme Court (Leo L. Griggs and Iowa Civil Rights Commission v. Wilson-Sinclair. 7 EPD 9083 - District Court decision; 6 EPD 8839 - Supreme Court decision). The Iowa Civil Rights Commission appealed the District Court decision and the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the District Court decision.

This case involved a black Complainant who had attempted to be promoted into the Mechanical Department of the company but was unable to achieve the requisite score on the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension test. The Complainant has been the only black to apply for this promotion. There is at present a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court from the issuance of a pre-hearing subpoena. It tests the question of whether or not such a subpoena can be issued without a hearing and also raises the objection of undue delay in the processing of the complaint. The case is docketed under Wilson & Company v. Oxberger.

1975 Annual Report Main Page