September 19, 2014

Judge rules in favor of the state in African-American discrimination lawsuit

A Polk County judge issued a ruling today  in favor of the state in a class action lawsuit that claimed the state had systematically discriminated against African-American employees when it came to hiring.

 District Court Judge Robert Blink’s ruling said the plaintiff’s failed to prove they had been discriminated against when it came to hiring and promotion practices under the Civil Rights Act.

Attorney Thomas Newkirk represented the those who brought the suit. “The initial reaction is that we were planning on either a big step forward if we’d won, or in this case because we have lost this stage, it just happens to be a much smaller step, but it is still a step forward,” Newkirk told Radio Iowa.

The 56-page ruling was released this morning and Newkirk says the legal team is still going over it to determine their next action. “We just need to review it in detail,” Newkirk says. “It will be appealed, but aside from that, what’s more important for the citizens of Iowa is how this case was handled and what it means for the state of Iowa.”

The lawyers plan a news conference this afternoon to discuss the ruling in more detail. The case began four years ago when lawyers said thousands of African-Americans who sought jobs or promotions were overlooked because the people making the hiring decisions favored white applicants.

The case covered a period between 2003 and 2007.

Here is a portion of the ruling released today:

Based upon the record evidence, the Court concludes the Plantiffs have failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that subjective, descretionary decision-making, permitted by the State’s abdication of statutory or regulatory responsibilities and obligations and/or failure to follow its own policies, caused disparate impact or adverse impact discrimination with respect to hiring and promotion decisions and/or unequal terms and conditions of employment associated with those decisions under Title VII and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.