Iowa Civil Rights Act

The Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) and related federal laws protect people from discrimination in various areas of public life. The ICRA prohibits discrimination in the following areas:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public Accommodations (such as stores, restaurants, and government offices)
  • Education
  • Credit


What is Discrimination?
Discrimination occurs when a person takes an adverse action against another person in one of these areas based on or because of a protected characteristic. Examples of adverse actions include:

  • Termination
  • Refusing to rent
  • Refusing to serve
  • Harassment


Who is Protected?
The following are protected characteristics under the ICRA:[1]

  • Age
  • Color
  • Creed
  • Familial Status
  • Gender Identity
  • Marital Status
  • Disability (mental or physical)
  • National Origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation


So, for example, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee based on or because of the employee’s race. It is illegal for a housing provider to refuse to rent to a potential tenant based on her national origin. It is illegal for a public accommodation to refuse to serve someone based on his sexual orientation or gender identity. It is illegal for a public school to refuse to educate a student based on her religion.

Am I Entitled to a Reasonable Accommodation?
The Iowa Civil Rights Act and related laws also require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities to enable them to perform their jobs. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Modifying work schedules
  • Modifying work duties
  • Providing certain equipment or tools
  • Allowing leave


Have I Been Retaliated Against?
The Iowa Civil Rights Act and related laws also protect against retaliation. Your rights have been violated if you engage in a protected activity under one of these laws and an adverse action is taken against you as a result. Examples of protected activities include:

  • Complaining of discrimination or harassment to a supervisor
  • Participating in a civil rights investigation
  • Requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability


[1] Note not all of these protected characteristics are protected in each area listed above. Visit https://icrc.iowa.gov/your-rights/protected-classes for a chart showing which characteristics are protected in which areas.

Civil Rights: Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation, and Accommodation

The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. A description or indication of limitation of practice does not mean that any agency or board has certified such lawyer as a specialist or expert in an indicated field of law practice, nor does it mean that such lawyer is necessarily any more expert or competent than any other lawyer. Memberships and offices in legal fraternities and legal societies, technical and professional licenses, and memberships in scientific, technical, and professional associations and societies of law or field of practice, does not mean that a lawyer is a specialist or expert in a field of law, nor does it mean that such lawyer is necessarily more expert or competent than any other lawyer. All potential clients are urged to make their own independent investigation and evaluation of any lawyer being considered. This notice is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Iowa. Disclaimer.

There is limited time in which to file a complaint under these laws. If you believe your civil rights have been violated, contact us right away for a free consultation. We would be happy to discuss representing you!

Greenberg & Hurd, LLP

515-875-4924