Terry Branstad (file photo)

The Iowa Supreme Court has overturned a lower court ruling awarding damages to the state Workers’ Compensation Commissioner former Governor Terry Branstad tried to fire.

In 2019, a district court jury awarded Christopher Godfrey $1.5 million. Godfrey argued he was pressured to resign and his pay was cut because he is gay.

Roxanne Conlin, Godfrey’s attorney, said the ruling is disappointing and surprising.

“It is just not the role of the Iowa Supreme Court to reverse the findings of fact of a jury,” Conlin said.

The Supreme Court’s ruling states there is no evidence Branstad is “anti-gay” or knew Godfrey was gay as he was seeking to replace him as workers’ compensation commissioner. Godfrey also alleged he was fired because of unfounded complaints from business groups about his rulings on workers’ compensation cases.

The Supreme Court ruling states that was the perception, whether correct or not, and Branstad was entitled to take that into consideration.

Here’s the ruling: Godfrey opinion pdf