515 E. Locust Street, Suite 300
Des Moines, IA 50309

IMPORTANT:  Notice regarding this class action and class certification was mailed to class members on December 13, 2010.  A shortened notice also appeared on selected dates after December 13, 2010 in major newspapers across the State of Iowa.  Click on the link on the right side of this page to access a copy of that Notice.


This website is designed to provide information about the employment discrimination lawsuit against the State of Iowa and its executive branch agencies brought by and on behalf of African Americans.


To date, 32 African American current or former employees from different departments and different level positions (the plaintiffs) are suing the State and all of the departments (the defendants) that use the State's central hiring and promotion system.  A copy of the Third Amended Petition (the most recent version of the lawsuit) setting forth the claims and allegations is available on the "Documents and Pleadings" page.



The lawsuit alleges the State’s employment policies and practices – including its hiring and promotion practices – operate to deny African Americans equal employment opportunities (intentionally or unintentionally), in part because of racial bias.  As examples, the lawsuit alleges that the State refuses to hire or promote qualified African Americans, and/or denies African Americans equal opportunities to interview for or to be hired or promoted to higher paying positions.  The lawsuit also alleges failure of the system designed to remedy past and present race discrimination, and ensure equal employment opportunities.

The State denies these allegations.  A copy of the State's Answer to the Third Amended Petition is available on the "Documents and Pleadings" page.

The State hired CPS Human Resources Services to audit its hiring and promotion practices.  A copy of the project report entitled "Review of State Hiring Practices" prepared by CPS Human Resources Services on April 30, 2007 ("the CPS Report") is available on the "Documents and Pleadings" page.


The plaintiffs seek change and justice--not not just for themselves--but for all African Amercians like them.  They think that a class action lawsuit is the best way to achieve those goals.

On July 1, 2010, the plaintiffs asked the Court for the right to pursue claims on behalf of other African Americans (a class action).  

On September 28, 2010, the Court certified the following class and class action claim:

CLASS DEFINITION: All African American applicants or employees who sought appointment to or held a merit-system position with an Executive Branch agency (not including Board of Regents) at any point from July 1, 2003 through [date of Court’s decision regarding liability].
CLASS CLAIM: Disparate Impact or Adverse Impact discrimination with respect to hiring and promotion decisions and/or unequal terms and conditions of employment associated with those decisions under Title VII and the Iowa Civil Rights Act arising from subjective, discretionary decision-making permitted by the State’s abdication of statutory or regulatory responsibilities and obligations and/or failure to follow its own policies.

The parties are in the process of preparing a notice that will be mailed to class members and posted here once approved by the Court.  

If you believe you are a class member and entitled to notice, please call Newkirk Law Firm, P.L.C. and provide your contact information.


Through the lawsuit, the plaintiffs hope to:
  • Help the State improve its policies and practices
  • Prevent harm to other African Americans, either current employees, former employees, or those who try to work for the State in the future
  • Prompt the State to adopt the remedies proposed in their Amended Petition, as well as any additional remedies recommended by the NAACP (a copy of the NAACP's recommendations is available on the "Documents and Pleadings" page).
Plaintiffs also are seeking compensation for African Americans who were denied equal employment opportunities.



If you have information relating to the case and you are not a current or former employee of the State in a position at the level of Bureau Chief or above, the attorneys for plaintiffs would like to speak with you about what you know.  Please contact one of the plaintiffs' attorneys listed on the "Contact Us" page.

If you have information relating to the case and you are a current or former employee of the State in a position at the level of Bureau Chief or above, the Attorney General's office may represent you.  Before contacting any of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, please contact the Attoney General's office to find out if the Attorney General's office represents you.

If you are a current, former or potential employee of the State of Iowa who is African American and who applied for and were denied employment and/or promotion by the State within the last 300 days or suffered other discrimination or retaliation, you should consult with an attorney or the Iowa Civil Rights Commission about filing a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.  If your goals are the same as the plaintiffs in the class action, the attorneys for the plaintiffs may be willing to represent you.

If you are a current, former or potential employee of the State of Iowa who is African American and who applied for and were denied employment and/or promotion or suffered other discrimination or retaliation more than 300 days ago, you should consult with an attorney regarding how this lawsuit may affect you.  

If you are a citizen of the State of Iowa concerned about the fact that your government may not be treating African Americans fairly, you should contact the Office of the Governor, your State Senator or Representative, the Governor's representative to the Diversity Council, or another member of the Diversity Council appointed by the Governor.  Information about the Diversity Council is available on DAS-Human Resources's website (http://das.hre.iowa.gov/hre_diversity_council.html

If you are a member of the press or a concerned citizen seeking additional information about the lawsuit, please contact one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.


April 6, 2011 - Judge enters Order Re: Motion to Sever and Request for Scheduling Conference.  Please visit the "Documents and Pleadings" page to view a copy of the Judge's Order.

December 9, 2010 - For a copy of the Notice of Class Action that will be mailed to class members on December 13, 2010, click

September 28, 2010 - Judge enters Order granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify case as class action.  For Des Moines Register coverage, click here.  For KCCI - Channel 8 coverage, click here.  For Chicago Tribune (AP) coverage, click here.

August 23, 2010 - Clients, please check the "Client Info" page for a new announcement.

July 29, 2010 - If you are a client, check the "Client Info" page for July announcements.

April 5, 2010 - For important information regarding Iowa's State Early Retirement Incentive Program (SERIP), check the "Putative Class Member Info" and "Client Info" tabs. 

December 16, 2009 - If you are a client, check the "Client Info" page for information posted today.

December 14, 2009 - If you are a client, check the "Client Info" page for information posted today.

November 20, 2009 - State of Iowa files its Answer to Plaintiffs' Third Amended and Substituted Petition.  To read it, click on the "Documents and Pleadings" tab or click here.

October 13, 2009 - Judge rules in Plaintiffs' favor regarding production of electronic workforce data, the State's Motion to Dismiss Title VII claims, and the State's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.  Click on the "Documents and Pleadings" tab to review the Judge's Orders.

Governor Culver responds to the Diversity Council's Recommendations, to read his response click here.  (Click here to review the Diversity Council's Recommendations).

DAS issues new Diversity Report for June-July 2009, to read it click here.

If you are a client, check the "Client Info" page for information posted today.

September 29, 2009 - WHO-TV reports of ongoing discrimination in State government; plaintiff Charles Zanders shares his story.  To watch the report, click here.

September 17, 2009 - New Plaintiffs seek to join lawsuit; Des Moines Register reports that conclusions of discrimination were removed from State of Iowa report.  To read the story,  click here.

August 31, 2009 - State claims it does not have to follow Title VII, a federal civil rights and anti-discrimination law, and is therefore immune from lawsuits for African Americans alleging violations of that law (click here for the State's argument and here for the Plaintiffs' response).

If you are a client, check the "Client Info" page for information posted on September 10, 2009.

August 21, 2009 - Newkirk Law Firm is now on twitter!  Follow us at http://twitter.com/EVCivilRights

If you are a client, check the "Client Info" page for information posted on June 12, 2009.

May 13, 2009 - Now Open:  Newkirk Law Firm, P.L.C.  521 East Locust, Suite 201 
Des Moines, Iowa  50309 (temporary location)
ph.  515.883.2000, fx.  515.883.2004

Nov. 12, 2008 - Nine new plaintiffs seek to join the lawsuit (click here for Des Moines Register article)

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