IowaLegalAid.orgIowa

How to Recognize Employment Discrimination

Information

In Iowa, most workers are "at the will" of the boss. This means the boss can fire workers at any time. The only time a worker is not at-will is if they have a contract with the boss. There are only a few protections for workers who are "at-will." These protections keep the boss from firing a worker for an illegal reason.

  • A boss fires an at-will worker for no reason. This is legal.
  • A boss fires an at-will worker for misconduct. This is legal.
  • A boss fires an at-will worker for a reason that doesn't make sense. This is legal.
  • A boss fires an at-will worker because of the worker's religion. This is illegal.

The law says a boss cannot fire a worker because of a bias they have against the worker. Illegal bias is discrimination. Discrimination is illegal when based on:

  • Race or color
  • Gender
  • Religion or creed
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity (Iowa only)
  • Disability
  • Age, or
  • Ethnic or national origin.

If a boss fires a worker for one of these reasons, here are ways the worker can get help:

1) Make a complaint to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC):

If you want to make a complaint, you can file one with the ICRC: 1-800-457-4416 or online at www.state.ia.us/government/crc/

  • The ICRC investigates discrimination.
  • You have 300 days from the discriminatory act to make a complaint.
  • You need to complete and return papers the ICRC mails out.
  • File a complaint with the local civil rights agency. You can find a list of local agencies on the ICRC website.

2) Make a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).

  • If you want to make a charge, you can file one with the EEOC:The EEOC investigates discrimination on the federal level.
  • The EEOC has an online assessment tool to determine whether your situation would be considered discrimination at www.eeoc.gov
  • You can file a charge of discrimination by:
    • Calling 1-800-669-4000 to submit basic information and the field office will call you back to talk to you about your situation, or
    • Sending the EEOC a letter with this information:
      • Your name, address, and telephone number
      • The name, address and telephone number of the employer (or employment agency or union) you want to file your charge against
      • The number of employees employed there (if known)
      • A short description of the events you believe were discriminatory (like if you were fired, demoted, harassed)
      • When the events took place
      • Why you believe you were discriminated against (for example, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information)
      • Your signature is required for the EEOC to investigate.

3) Talk to a private attorney about a lawsuit against the employer. A private attorney is an attorney who does not work for Iowa Legal Aid.

  • Iowa Legal Aid cannot sue the employer for money.
  • If you cannot find an attorney in your area, ask private attorneys in larger cities about your case.
  • Most private attorneys could give a free first consultation.
  • Some private attorneys may take your case on a contingent fee basis. This means you do not pay money up front.

4) Apply for unemployment benefits. File at your local Iowa Workforce Development Office or online at:

www.iowaworkforce.org/ui.

Last Review and Update: Aug 17, 2011
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