The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits all public and private employers of four or more persons from discriminating in employment on the basis of race or color (IA Code Sec. 216.1 et seq.). Under the state law, it is unlawful to:
• Refuse to hire, discharge, or to otherwise discriminate in employment against any applicant or employee because of race or color, unless based on the nature of the occupation.
• Advertise, indicate, or publicize that individuals of any particular race or color are unwelcome or not acceptable for employment, unless based on the nature of the occupation.
• Intentionally aid, compel, or coerce another person to engage in discriminatory acts, or to discriminate or retaliate against any person who has opposed discrimination or assisted in any proceeding under the state law.
• Coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person who exercises rights granted under the state law or who helps or encourages another person to exercise protected rights.
Harassment. Both state and federal fair employment law prohibit workplace harassment based on race or color. Harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment. Generally, the more severe and offensive the conduct is, the less frequently it has to occur before it constitutes unlawful harassment.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that regardless of the frequency of racial slurs and comments, other considerations can provide sufficient evidence of severity to establish that a racially hostile work environment existed (Watson v. CEVA Logistics U.S., Inc., 619 F. 3d 936 (8th Cir. 2010)). The court noted that in this case, racial slurs were directed at specific employees and that the offensive ...