Iowa court says unconscious bias is not actionable

April 18, 2012 | By JOSHUA THOMPSON

Two months ago, I posted about this discrimination lawsuit brought in Iowa.  The plaintiffs were alleging discrimiantion based on some amorphous, free-standing bias inherent in all Iowa government.  The plaintiffs claimed a “subconscious bias” infected state government and resulted in discriminatory treatment against minorities. Yesterday, the judge threw out the lawsuit.  He wrote:

Even more significant is the fact that neither [plaintiff expert] offered a reliable opinion as to how many, or what percentage, of the discretionary subjective employment decisions made by managers or supervisors in the State employment system were the result of “sterotyped thinking” adverse to the protected class.

This is welcome news. Apparently the plaintiffs want to force Iowa government to overtly discriminate — by creating a system of preferential treatment — in order to overcome subconscious discrimination.  Such silliness does not belong in the courtroom.  Undeterred, however, the plaintiffs have vowed to appeal.  Stay tuned.