June 29, 2008
Federal Interpretation Impact on State Law
The language of Iowa‟s civil rights act for the 180 day period to raise a violation is modeled after the federal statute, which requires that a charge be filed within 180 days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.” 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(e)(1) (2000). Iowa Code section 216.15(12) requires that a complaint be filed within 180 days “after the alleged discriminatory or unfair practice occurred.” Suppose an employee is told that a renewable contract won't be renewed; does the 180 days run from the day she's told that, or the day the contract is not renewed?
It's the earlier, according to Woomert v. Iowa Civil Rights Comm'n, available here. It discusses the impact of federal interpretations on state law, and adopts the federal approach, and so held her claim time-barred.
It's interesting when these modeling statutes are given the same interpretation as later decisions of the federal courts, as opposed to earlier ones. Not sure I'd agree that it automatically follows that a legislature in 1980 had in mind an interpretation adopted in 1990, in other words...
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