A Polk county judge rejected a class-action lawsuit alleging the state allowed decades of bias in hiring decisions. District Judge Robert Blink issued the ruling Tuesday in Pippen vs. the state of Iowa.
The plaintiffs claimed the state allowed bias in hiring dating back to July 2003, resulting in discrimination against African Americans. The judge ruled Tuesday that the plaintiffs failed to prove the case.
This case has spanned three governors and gone on so long that three plaintiffs died before the court could make its ruling, but in the end, the court decided state agency managers didn't discriminate on hiring and promoting based on a person's skin color. The plaintiffs' attorney pledges to appeal and says all Iowans should be disappointed with today's decision.
“For those of us who are tired of the state spending your tax dollars on a broken system and knowing that system will favor people who look like me over people who look like our clients, you should be disappointed with this ruling." said Tom Newkirk.
Newkirk admits his strategy was unique. He wasn't trying to prove racism on behalf of the 32 named plaintiffs and as many as 6,000 other workers over the years. He wanted to prove department managers are influenced by sometimes subconscious feelings about African Americans when denying them better positions. Even after this defeat one plaintiff says she's not giving up hope.
“I have confidence that it could change some day if the state is willing to work with us. I really believe that." said Beverly Couch.
Couch feels she got passed up on nearly 60 positions over the years with Iowa Workforce Development, economic development and human services. She got laid off from her job at DHS earlier this year.