Class-Action Status Granted to IA State Employment Discrimination Case
On Tuesday, a District Court judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed by 32 plaintiffs alleging that they were denied state jobs or promotions in Iowa because of their race. The lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2007, can now move forward and may cover more Iowans who may have experienced employment discrimination, according to the Des Moines Register. The state is accused of creating systematic barriers for African-Americans seeking jobs and promotions.
According to the Des Moines Register, the lawsuit claims that since 1995, the state has designed its practices to ensure that only the minimum number of African-Americans required by state affirmative action plans are hired. The suit's new class-action status enables African-Americans to become plaintiffs in the case if they believe they experienced discrimination either as job applicants or as Iowa executive branch employees after July 1, 2003. One of the plaintiffs, Tereasa Jefferson, alleges that she was wrongly removed from her position in the state's personnel department. Though she eventually found another job with the state, she now earns less than she did in her previous position. Jefferson told the Des Moines Register, "I'm hoping for change. I have children who will enter this work force, and we just want a fair shake."
The plaintiffs' attorney, Tom Newkirk told NBC, that "the purpose of the lawsuit is to help the state of Iowa develop an Iowa solution to a national problem, which is discrimination against African-Americans...None of my clients want to be given a job. They want to be given equal opportunity." The case applies to over 20,000 employment applications, reported Chicago Tribune.
Media Resources: Des Moines Register 9/29/10; WHO TV 9/29/10; Chicago Tribune 9/28/10