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Iowa Supreme Court Says No Punitive Damages for Employment Discrimination

Iowa Supreme Court Says No Punitive Damages for Employment Discrimination

Posted on 06/24/2013 at 11:51 AM by Sara Laughlin

In a significant victory for Iowa employers, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday, June 21, 2013 that the Iowa Civil Rights Act does not permit plaintiffs who are suing for employment discrimination to be awarded punitive damages. In so doing, the Court confirmed nearly thirty years of precedent stating that the Iowa Civil Rights Act is equitable in nature, rather than punitive. Dickinson attorneys Russ Samson and I submitted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), urging the Court to adhere to its long-standing construction of the state law. In doing so, we took the position that the availability of punitive damages in employment discrimination lawsuits would adversely affect Iowa’s business and economic climates. We take some pride in the fact that although the Iowa Supreme Court rarely mentions amicus briefs in its opinions, the Court’s unanimous opinion specifically identified and quoted from ABI’s brief. To read the Court’s ruling, see here.  
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