Iowa Religious Discrimination laws & HR compliance analysis

Iowa Religious Discrimination: What you need to know

The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits all public and private employers of four or more persons from discriminating in employment on the basis of religion (IA Code Sec. 216.1 et seq.). Under the Act, it is unlawful for an employer to:
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• Refuse to hire, discharge, or to otherwise discriminate in employment against an applicant or employee because of religion, unless based upon the nature of the occupation.
• Advertise or indicate or publicize that individuals of any particular religion 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 obeyed the Act's provisions, opposed discrimination, filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding under the Act.
• Coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise of rights under the law, or on account of the person having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise of rights.
Religious institutions, educational facilities, associations, corporation, or societies. Any bona fide religious institution or its educational facility, association, corporation, or society may base any qualification for employment on religion if related to a bona fide religious purpose (IA Stat. Sec. 216.6(6)(d)).
The nature of the occupation exception. The “nature of the occupation” language of Section 216.6 is identical to the bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception present in the federal fair employment legislation (Foods, Inc. v. Civil Rights Comm'n, 318 N.W.2d 162 (Iowa 1982)). Religion is presumed to be a BFOQ when the position offered is ...

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