In a rare revamping of its opinion the Iowa Supreme Court withdrew its earlier decision and re-issued another opinion. But it didn’t work out as some had hoped, no it didn’t. The Court squarely rebuked any notion the withdrawn opinion was in any way wrong or sexist and instead laid bare the problems with the case as presented and tried.

In this decision there is a lesson for young lawyers to learn.

When attorneys come up ragging on the court and join in with those who insinuate the court is somehow sexist the Court has every right to fight back to set the record straight about this fine institution of both men and women. The Court set everyone straight. But not in the way some had hoped. The Court very effectively pointed out the limits of the ruling and the conclusions being necessary as a result of how the case was plead and tried. As Bobby DeNiro said to Cuba Gooding in Men of Honor, "Cookie watch out for what you wish for because you might just get it." Let me take an educated guess that things on the Iowa Trial Lawyers list serve are pretty quiet on this decision. 

 

Filed July 12, 2013  NELSON v. KNIGHT DDS, P.C

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Thomas J. Bice, Judge.

A former employee appeals from the district court’s grant of summary judgment to an employer in a sex discrimination case. AFFIRMED.

MANSFIELD, Justice.1

Can a male employer terminate a long-time female employee because the employer’s wife, due to no fault of the employee, is concerned about the nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee? This is the question we are required to answer today. For the reasons stated herein, we ultimately conclude the conduct does not amount to unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

We emphasize the limits of our decision. The employee did not bring a sexual harassment or hostile work environment claim; we are not deciding how such a claim would have been resolved in this or any other case. Also, when an employer takes an adverse employment action against a person or persons because of a gender-specific characteristic, that can violate the civil rights laws. The record in this case, however, does not support such an allegation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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