Iowa Sexual Harassment laws & HR compliance analysis

Iowa Sexual Harassment: What you need to know

The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits employers of four or more persons from discriminating in employment on the basis of sex, pregnancy (including conditions related to pregnancy), gender identity, and sexual orientation (IA Code Sec. 216.1 et seq.). Harassment based on a protected characteristic, including sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity, is prohibited under state law. In addition, many cities in Iowa have human rights and civil rights ordinances that prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
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State law expressly prohibits sexual harassment of state employees (IA Code Sec. 19B.12). "Sexual harassment" is defined as persistent, repetitive, or highly egregious conduct directed at a person or group that a reasonable person would interpret as intentional harassment of a sexual nature.
State law does not require training on an employer's sexual harassment policy. However, the state defers to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, which strongly recommend that employers train supervisors and employees regarding the employer's policy. Training prepares supervisors to properly address sexual harassment complaints, educates the workforce on issues of sexual harassment and the prevention of potentially harassing situations, establishes the employer's policies, and provides the basis for an effective defense to sexual harassment claims. There are additional details.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of an employer that had trained its employees on its policy against harassment and on how to report harassment (Crawford v. BNSF Ry. Co., 665 F.3d 978 (8th Cir. 2012) cert. denied (2012)). In affirming ...

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