STEVEN KUHLE AS FRATERNAL ORDER OF EAGLES #568, Petitioner-Appellant,
IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION, Respondent-Appellee. and PATRICIA KELLY and MICHAEL FISHNICK, Intervenors-Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas A.
appellant appeals the district court's ruling affirming
an adverse agency decision.
M. Richards of Richards Law Firm, Tama, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Katie Fiala, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
E. Sabers of Robert E. Sabers, P.C., Dubuque, for appellees
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
an appeal from an order on judicial review affirming an
agency decision of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC).
We affirm the district court.
of background, Patricia Kelly and Michael Fishnick each filed
complaints with the ICRC alleging their former employer,
Fraternal Order of Eagles #568 (Order), discriminated against
them on the basis of age. The ICRC filed statements of
charges with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals,
naming the respondents as "Dubuque Fraternal Order of
Eagles #568" and Steve Kuhle, one of the Order's
trustees and the person primarily responsible for supervising
the Order's employees and recommending employment action.
The administrative process proceeded from there. In her
proposed decision, the administrative law judge (ALJ)
concluded the Order and Kuhle committed an unfair or
discriminatory practice in terminating the employment of
Fishnick, and in reducing Kelly's hours, and in
constructively discharging Kelly based on her age. The ALJ
awarded Fishnick and Kelly damages and attorney fees. The
Order had represented itself by various names in different
contexts, and at the hearing before the ALJ, the Order's
attorney and its witnesses referred to it in various ways. In
the ALJ's supplemental proposed decision,
respondent's name, as related to the Order, was amended
to "Dubuque Aerie #568 of the Fraternal Order of the
Eagles, a/k/a Dubuque Fraternal Order of Eagles #568, a/k/a
Dubuque Association No. 568 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles,
an Iowa nonprofit corporation," and the caption of the
matter was changed to reflect the amendment. Steve Kuhle,
individually, remained as a named respondent. In its final
order, the ICRC adopted the ALJ's decision against the
Order but reversed as to Kuhle. The ICRC held that
"Kuhle's actions as a trustee of the non-profit
organization form the basis for this FINAL ORDER, but he is
not personally liable as an individual due to the immunity
provided for in Iowa Code Section 504.901(1)." The ICRC
adopted the ALJ's award of damages and attorney fees.
application for judicial review was filed with the caption,
"Steve Kuhle as Fraternal Order of Eagles #568 as
Petitioner vs. Iowa Civil Rights Commission." Why
petitioner's name was morphed to "Steve Kuhle as
Fraternal Order of Eagles #568" is unknown. Kelly and
Fishnick intervened. The matter was submitted to the district
court on briefs. The court affirmed the final agency decision
of the ICRC. "Steve Kuhle as Fraternal Order of Eagles
#568, Petitioner," appeals.
is no entity or party known as "Steve Kuhle as Fraternal
Order of Eagles #568." Steve Kuhle, the individual, was
a party in the administrative action. Steve Kuhle was always
a separate and distinct party in the proceedings. Steve Kuhle
presently has no judgment against him because the ICRC, in
its final order, held Kuhle was not personally liable as an
individual. It is difficult to discern who the appellant is
in this appeal. All references in the appellant's brief
to "petitioner" and "appellant" are in
the singular. The appellant's brief states,
"Kuhle filed a petition for judicial review of
a ruling from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission on May 9, 2017
and filed a notice of appeal on March 21, 2018 on the ruling
on judicial review." (Emphasis added.) Appellant's
argument states, "Kuhle seeks to overturn the
ruling of liability for his association with the Fraternal
Order of Eagles as to the ruling of a violation by the Civil
Rights Commission." (Emphasis added.) While scratching
our heads on this issue, we nevertheless proceed forward.
first of two arguments, the appellant makes a
constitutional-right-of-freedom-of-association argument. No
such argument was raised before the district court. It is
well established that this court does not consider issues
raised for the first time on appeal. See Meier v.
Senecaut, 641 N.W.2d 532, 537 (Iowa 2002).
second argument, the appellant asserts Fishnick and Kelly
were employees at will and "[a]s an employee at will,
the employer may terminate employment for any reason."
The appellant misstates the law. At-will employees may not be
terminated for reasons that are legislatively prohibited or
for a reason contrary to public policy. See Rivera v.
Woodward Resource Ctr., 865 N.W.2d 887, 893 (Iowa 2015);
Teachout v. Forest City Cmty. Sch. Dist., 584 N.W.2d
296, 299 (Iowa 1998). The Iowa Legislature has set public
policy through the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA). The ICRA
legislatively prohibits unlawful discrimination against an
employee based on the employee's age. See Iowa