WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against Iowa Fertilizer Company

Feb 8, 2018

A former employee filed a lawsuit against Iowa Fertilizer Company, claiming sex discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment. She also claims her termination from the production plant in Lee County violates state law.

Kimberly Moore is listed as a resident of Lee County. Her lawsuit, which was filed in south Lee County District Court in November 2017, names Iowa Fertilizer Company and three employees: Gary Brundage, Rhonda Schreck, and Bobbie Hill.

Moore said in her lawsuit that she was hired by the company on July 21, 2014 as a Warehouse Administrator. She said one month later, she was transferred to a “Buyer” position in the Procurement Department.

“The Buyer position was a higher paying position than Warehouse Administrator, but Defendants never raised Kimberly’s pay to reflect her new position,” per the lawsuit.

Moore said she worked alongside a male “Buyer” for about six months, performing the same duties under similar working conditions.

“Nevertheless, Defendants failed to change Kimberly job title to Buyer,” stated the lawsuit. “Defendants paid Kimberly less than they paid [male buyer].”

Moore said she complained to management about her job title and unequal pay. She said she was told it was the result of a company-wide hiring freeze.

“In May and June 2015, Kimberly received frequent emails announcing the promotion of various male employees within IFCo’s Operations Department,” said Moore. “Mr. Brundage had no explanation but continued to refuse to promote her or remedy the pay differential.”

Moore said Brundage told her she did good work, “but claimed he felt she was unreliable.” Moore said she only time she missed work was due to migraines or a family health issue.

Moore claims that in late 2015, after again complaining about her title and pay, Brundage accused her of being “unprofessional and insubordinate.”

Moore said he eventually began making offensive statements including:

  • Saying women do not belong on the front lines of the military
  • Saying ‘women are built to do the dishes because their feet are so small so they can get closer to the sink.’
  • Bragging that the first thing he did when he got divorced was hire a maid so he finally had clean clothes and a clean house.

Moore claims that Brundage also tried to have her look at photographs of a naked woman and that she refused to do so.

Moore said she brought her concerns about Brundage’s behavior to Schreck and Hill in the Human Resources Department but to no avail.

“Ms. Schreck, Ms. Hill and Mr. Brundage appeared increasingly frustrated and upset that Kimberly continued to complain about sex discrimination, unequal pay and sexual harassment,” per the lawsuit.

INJURY

Moore said in her lawsuit that on Feb. 3, 2016, she injured her back unloading a semi full of lockers. She said she informed the company of her injury and that she was going to a doctor, who restricted her from working until Feb. 15.

“On approximately Feb. 11, Kimberly suffered a panic attack from the thought of returning to the hostile and discriminatory work environment. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance,” claims the lawsuit, adding her leave was extended to Feb. 23.

Moore said the company started advertising for a position similar to hers on Feb. 19. She said when she returned to work on February 23, she did not have access to the company’s inventory control system.

She said at that time, she was told that she was fired for not being a “team player.” She said she cleaned out her desk and left, only to receive a letter on March 1 from IFC that claimed she “abandoned her job when she left work without notice on Feb. 23, 2016.”

She said she tried to contact the company to determine what was going on, but received no response.

DAMAGES

Moore claims that the company and its employees “harassed and discriminated against” her, adding that her sex was a motivating factor. She said she was paid less than male employees for work that required “equal skill, effort and responsibility.”

Moore said her lower pay was on purpose and that she was retaliated against for speaking out. And she said the company also failed to accommodate for her disabilities, which included migraines and anxiety.

She is seeking compensation for mental and emotional distress, fear, anguish, stress, humiliation, intimidation, embarrassment, lost enjoyment of live, back pay, front pay, and employment benefits.

Moore has demanded a jury trial.

Iowa Fertilizer Company has yet to file a formal answer to the lawsuit in district court.

The two sides have agreed to allow personnel documents to be kept confidential in the court records.