from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Linda
from district court order affirming an employment
classification decision of the Iowa Department of
Administrative Services. AFFIRMED.
R. Walker, Jr. of Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman
& Johnson, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Matthew T. Oetker, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
administrative appeal arises out of Darryn Abben's
challenge to his job classification. Abben commenced
employment with the department of transportation in July
1986. At all times material to this appeal, Abben was
employed as a Highway Technician Associate (HTA). According
to Abben, commencing in 1997, he spent the majority of his
time performing work falling under the job duties of an
Electrician, a position with a higher pay grade. In 2000,
Abben submitted a Position Description Questionnaire (PDQ) to
the Iowa Department of Personnel, seeking to be reclassified
as an Electrician. That request was denied. In 2014, Abben
filed this administrative challenge to his job
classification. He challenged only his employment
classification for the period 2006 through 2013. The
Classification Appeals Committee of the Department of
Administrative Services (DAS) denied Abben's request for
reclassification, finding Abben failed to prove a substantive
change in his job duties sufficient to warrant
reclassification of his position. The district court affirmed
the agency's action. Abben timely filed this appeal.
Iowa Administrative Procedure Act governs judicial review of
agency action. See Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)
(2013); Renda v. Iowa Civil Rights Comm'n, 784
N.W.2d 8, 10 (Iowa 2010). Here, Abben asserts the
agency's decision was not supported by "substantial
evidence in the record before the court when that record is
viewed as a whole." Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)(f).
"Substantial evidence" is "the quantity and
quality of evidence that would be deemed sufficient by a
neutral, detached, and reasonable person, to establish the
fact at issue when the consequences resulting from the
establishment of that fact are understood to be serious and
of great importance." Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)(f)(1);
see also Smith v. Iowa Dep't of Human Servs.,
755 N.W.2d 135, 137 (Iowa 2008). "Evidence is not
substantial if a reasonable mind would find the evidence
inadequate to reach the same conclusion as the agency."
Ringland Johnson, Inc. v. Hunecke, 585 N.W.2d 269,
272 (Iowa 1998). An agency's decision does not lack
substantial evidence simply because other inconsistent
conclusions could be drawn from the same evidence. See
Heartland Specialty Foods v. Johnson, 731 N.W.2d 397,
400 (Iowa Ct. App. 2007). The ultimate question is not
whether the evidence would support a different conclusion but
whether it supports the conclusion made. See Gaskey v.
Iowa Dep't of Transp., 537 N.W.2d 695, 698 (Iowa
classification decision "is not easily quantifiable nor
is it susceptible to any easy bright line test."
Abel v. Iowa Dep't of Pers., 472 N.W.2d 281, 282
(Iowa 1991). The "mandate to determine the proper
classification of state jobs" lies with DAS and
"not the courts." Id. To prove his
position should have been reclassified, Abben had the burden
to show a substantive change in his job duties. This required
him to prove "by a preponderance of evidence that the
duties of the requested job classification [were] assigned
and carried out on a permanent basis and [were] performed
over [fifty] percent of the time." Iowa Admin. Code r.
general rule, we broadly and liberally apply an agency's
findings in order to uphold, rather than defeat, its
decision. See Ward v. Iowa Dep't of Transp., 304
N.W.2d 236, 237 (Iowa 1981). In that light, we conclude the
agency's findings are supported by substantial evidence.
We begin with the relevant job descriptions. The HTA position
and the Electrician position both require electrical work.
Some of the functions of the HTA position include the
Performs construction and maintenance and minor repairs on
all assigned equipment such as oil changes, greasing and
inspections; assists mechanic on major breakdowns and
overhauls such as repairs on brakes, hydraulics, electrical,
transmission and mechanical systems.
duties of an Electrician are set forth as follows:
Performs skilled electrical work in the installation,
alteration, maintenance, and repair of electrical systems,
fixtures, and related equipment; performs related work as
Abben is correct both positions require some electric work,
he did not establish he performed any skilled
electrical work as contemplated by the Electrician
designation. Second, to the extent Abben did perform some
skilled electrical work in his position, he failed to
establish he engaged in skilled electrical work more than
fifty percent of the time. Abben provided personal logs of
his daily activities coded by department of transportation
task codes. His logs provided little guidance on the meaning
of the codes. In addition, his logs do not prove he engaged
in skilled electrical work more than fifty percent of the
time. At best, the logs only show Abben engaged in work he
considered to be electrical in nature without regard to the
skill involved or degree of complexity. For example, ...