Iowa State University settles with ex-custodian alleging retaliation and discrimination

Curtiss Hall (left) and the Campanile (right) on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames on Friday, July 31, 2015. (/The Gazette)

The state board has settled a lawsuit with a former Iowa State University custodian who said she was not told she could take time off for her migraines , retaliated for the time she took to remedy it, and was discriminated against because of her skin color.

During her employment, Dominique Jackman “was treated disrespectfully by other employees when they repeatedly made comments about minorities such as ‘black people weren’t there when they were growing up and now they are everywhere,” according to a July 2020 lawsuit former ISU employee Jackman filed a lawsuit against the state of Iowa and three of its employees.

“In late 2018, Jackman complained to her then-supervisor … about these comments,” according to the lawsuit. “Jackman is not aware of any investigation that has been conducted as a result of his complaint. Jackman stopped eating in the break room with those employees because of those comments.

Jackman also accused the state of Iowa and its supervisors of failing to inform her of her rights to family leave; disregarding his disability; discriminate against and retaliate against her for this disability; defame it; and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

“The acts and omissions of the defendants were outrageous and intentionally designed to discredit and humiliate Jackman, damage his reputation, and cause him severe mental anguish and emotional distress,” according to his lawsuit. “The conduct of the defendants was willful, gratuitous and malicious and was in knowing and reckless disregard of Jackman’s rights.”

The State of Iowa has denied these charges and allegations – asking a court to dismiss them for several reasons, including that Jackman changed his story and that any wrongdoing by ISU employees was not “outrageous , intentional or reckless, in law”.

“None of the conduct that plaintiff alleges against any of the individually named defendants is sufficiently outrageous to sustain a claim (intentional infliction of emotional distress),” according to the state’s motion to dismiss. “His allegations that the ISU defendant failed to provide FMLA documents, failed to accommodate his migraines, or failed to respond to racist comments from co-workers do not rise to the level of outrage required. to support an IIED claim in Iowa.”

The settlement reached by the two parties last week pays Jackman and his lawyers a total of $50,000 – including $6,087 for lost earnings, $25,000 for non-wage damages like emotional distress and $18,913 for attorney’s fees.

“Jackman acknowledges that such payments infringe litigation and such payments should not be construed as the State of Iowa or any of the Released Parties conceding the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees or expenses, and should not be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the State of Iowa or any of the released parties,” according to the settlement.

Jackman, 38, whose employment with Iowa State ended on April 5, 2019, also agreed as part of the agreement not to seek future employment with ISU.

The ISU regulations are among four staff regulations the board has signed so far this fiscal year, which began July 1. tort claims, 13 pending faculty or staff grievances or disciplinary cases, and 136 pending workers’ compensation claims.

The University of Iowa had 14 pending lawsuits, 20 pending internal discrimination complaints and 603 workers’ compensation claims as of June.

UI Health Care had 24 pending lawsuits, and Northern Iowa University had two pending lawsuits and 65 pending workers’ compensation claims.

Jackman, according to her lawsuit, began working at Iowa State as a full-time caretaker in October 2017. While an ISU employee, she sometimes suffered from debilitating migraines that left her bedridden. and nauseous.

Although she said she told a supervisor that her absences from work were due to migraines, Jackman said she did not always call immediately “due to the debilitating effect of migraines,” according to her lawsuit.

The state of Iowa issued her lack of work warnings, but Jackman in her lawsuit said no one told her about the family and medical leave law or that she had a “serious medical condition who might qualify her for benefits or leave eligibility.

In late 2018, Jackman said she complained to a supervisor about racially disrespectful behavior and abuse that occurred throughout her employment, but she was unaware that the State of Iowa had been investigated.

Shortly thereafter, in January 2019, Iowa State hired a new custodial supervisor — who had been Jackman’s supervisor in a previous job with Green Hills Retirement Community, according to the lawsuit.

Jackman accused the supervisor of creating a “hostile work environment” at his former job, prompting him to quit, according to the lawsuit. But the supervisor told Iowa State Human Resources that Jackman had been terminated, prompting HR to inform Jackman that she “is being investigated for falsifying her job application.” employment for the ISU,” according to the lawsuit.

When an Iowa State program coordinator on April 4, 2019, asked Jackson to sign a waiver for Green Hills, Jackman said she asked why and received no explanation, according to the trial. Jackman refused to sign and was fired the following day.

She quickly applied for unemployment benefits, and the state of Iowa appealed her decision — although the Employment Appeals Board ultimately upheld her benefits, according to the lawsuit.

Fighting the claims, the State of Iowa argued that they should be dismissed because, among other reasons, Jackman changed his story, the ISU and its agents are immune, and even though a court found that the supervisor was not immune, she acted “in good faith. ”

“The ISU has an interest in employing honest and trustworthy candidates, and therefore strictly prohibits the falsification of employment documents,” according to the state’s motion to dismiss, arguing that the supervisor in question “had a vested interest in in good faith to raise concerns with Human Resources about potential violations of respondent ISU policies.

Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; [email protected]

About Yvonne Lozier

Check Also

Grinberg: DIR considering new EAMS regulations | Workers Compensation News

By Gregory Grinberg Tuesday, November 8, 2022 | 0 I bring to your attention today …