IOWA -- The Iowa Supreme Court has now ruled on a case alleging the state, former governor Terry Branstad, and current governor Kim Reynolds discriminated against a former state employee based on his sexual orientation.
Branstad asked Chris Godfrey--the former Workers' Compensation Commissioner--to resign in 2010. When Godfrey refused, Branstad cut his salary by $40,000. Godfrey claimed Branstad wanted him out because he is gay. He also alleged retaliation and extortion while he remained on the job.
In 2014, a district court judge dismissed four of the claims, but on Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Godfrey's lawsuit can more forward, and if successful, Godfrey can collect monetary damages from the state.
This is significant and could have far-reaching consequences because it is the first time the courts have allowed monetary damages under a constitutional claim.
In a statement on Friday morning, Godfrey said, "I am thankful to the court for providing these protections not only to me, but all Iowans... This goes far beyond my case and gives protections to people who may be harmed by the state... I look forward to my day before a jury so we can all move on."
The attorney representing former governor Branstad, Governor Reynolds, and others, said in part, "Mr. Godfrey still must prove his allegations in district court. We are pleased the Supreme Court left intact the defendants' affirmative defenses, which we believe will dispose of Mr. Godfrey's case."