The Iowa Supreme Court says a Linn County woman who was fired after returning to work from maternity leave should get a new trial. Elizabeth DeBoom worked as marketing director for a company called Raining Rose when she was fired in 2004 eight days after returning to full-time work from maternity leave.

Officials with the company told her she hadn’t caught up enough after returning to work. DeBoom filed suit saying the company fired her because of her sex and pregnancy. The company said DeBoom was not protected because she wasn’t pregnant when she was fired, and that she did not present enough evidence to show her firing was based on discrimination.

A jury ruled in favor of the company, but DeBoom appealed based on the jury instructions that she says prejudiced her claim of discrimination. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled the jury instruction provided by the district court required DeBoom to prove her sex or pregnancy was a “determining” factor in her termination and made it tougher to prove. Download PDF

The high court said that although Iowa has yet to determined whether the prohibition against firing someone “disabled by pregnancy” includes women who have recently given birth or taken maternity leave — the federal courts have interpreted that it does. So the court ordered that DeBloom be given a new trial.