The state Judicial Building.

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a former administrative law judge for Iowa Workforce Development who was covered by a collective bargaining agreement can sue the state.

Susan Ackerman sued the state after being fired in January of 2015. She says she was fired in retaliation for testifying before an Iowa Senate committee about her belief the leader of Iowa Workforce Development created a hostile work environment. And she said administrative law judges were pressured to rule in favor of employers in unemployment claims.

The district court dismissed the claim saying only at-will employees could sue the state and Ackerman was covered by a union collective bargaining agreement which gave her options to address the claim. The Iowa Supreme Court sided with the Court of Appeals, which said contract employees could sue.

Justice Thomas Waterman wrote a dissenting opion which says this is the wrong case to address the issue as Ackerman is a state employee covered by a bargaining agreement. It says she has remedies to address the issue that at-will employees do not and the court should not create another avenue for her to pursue her claim. Justice Edward Mansfield joined Waterman’s dissent.

Here’s the full report: Ackerman-Ruling-PDF