For Iowa workers who believe they have been subjected to workplace harassment and other violations of the law, there are certain requirements that must be met before they can file a lawsuit because of it. Some employers might cite the failure to reach the necessary threshold as a protective device against a legal filing. However, those who have been wronged and dealt with workplace discrimination should not be dissuaded from pursuing their claims based on legal interpretations. Appealing and pushing forward can be effective in receiving justice.
A woman filed a complaint after her employer — a small insurance agency — continually behaved inappropriately. However, she found her case hindered by the 1965 Iowa law shielding companies with fewer than four employees from such a filing. Nevertheless, she won her appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court for the case to move forward. With that victory, she can file a lawsuit against her employer. According to the case, the woman alleges that sex discrimination and a hostile work environment resulted from her boss unzipping his pants and showing employees his genitals. The woman was an agency office manager.
The filing was made four years ago when she asserted that she and other female employees were sexually harassed over seven years. The man is said to have attempted to get the women to see his genitals and that he was aroused. The owner tried to use the 1965 law as justification to dismiss that case. Having fewer than four employees and that family members who work at the business cannot be counted as employees meant that the office did not reach the necessary number to fall under that law. The court decided that an incorporated business cannot use that law to serve as a protection. The court did not decide on the case itself, only whether it can go forward.
This case makes allegations of egregious conduct on the part of the owner of the company and his attempts to avoid being sued for it were based on a narrow interpretation of the law. It serves as an example that in certain instances it can be difficult to pursue these cases. It is not unusual for employees to be frightened of taking necessary steps as this woman did. People who are dealing with workplace discrimination of any kind, or are being harassed or deprived of their employee rights should seek legal assistance to try and move forward even if it appears difficult. A lawyer experienced in this area of the law can help.
Source: desmoinesregister.com, “Iowa woman can sue boss accused of showing genitals under ruling on small business and civil rights,” David Pitt, March 9, 2018