1st trial begins in group of Iowa bias claims

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Jury selection is underway for the first of what could be several trials in claims brought by black employees and job applicants who allege racial discrimination cost them jobs and promotions in Iowa’s executive branch.

The cases stem from a class-action lawsuit in which up to 6,000 blacks passed over for state jobs alleged a pattern of discrimination. A judge dismissed the lawsuit last year and the Iowa Supreme Court is considering whether to reinstate it.

Meanwhile, some individual cases will be tried after years of litigation.

The trial that started Tuesday in Des Moines features former Iowa Workforce Development clerk Dorothea Polk, who contends she was fired in 2006 after filing a discrimination complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Three other trials are scheduled in coming weeks.

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