The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on sex, marital status, pregnancy (including childbirth or related conditions), gender identity, and sexual orientation (IA Code Sec. 216.6). The Act defines "gender identity" as the gender-related identity of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth. The term "sexual orientation" is defined to include actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.
Employers that regularly employ fewer than four individuals are not covered under the Act, and individuals who are members of the employer's family are not counted as employees (IA Code Sec. 216.6.a). Discrimination in state public works contracts on the basis of sex is also prohibited, and all such contracts must include a clause to that effect.
Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception. Under regulations issued by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the bona fide occupational qualification exception as to sex is strictly and narrowly construed (IA Admin. Code Sec. 161-8.47(216)). The regulations provide the following as examples that do not warrant the application of the bona fide occupational qualification exception:
• The refusal to hire a woman because of her sex based on assumptions of the comparative employment characteristics of women in general; for example, the assumption that the turnover rate among women is higher than among men.
• The refusal to hire an individual based on stereotypical characterizations of the sexes; for example, that men are less capable of assembling intricate equipment or that women are less capable of aggressive sales work. The principle of nondiscrimination requires that individuals be considered on the ...