Gay Former WC Commissioner Wins Discrimination Suit Against Former Governor

17 Jul, 2019 Nancy Grover


Newton, IA ( – Chris Godfrey would have settled for an apology and $40,000 restored to his salary. Instead, he’ll take the $1.5 million a jury awarded him in his discrimination suit against Iowa’s former governor.

A Polk County, Iowa jury found that former Gov. Terry Branstad, now the U.S. ambassador to China, retaliated against the former Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation commissioner because he is gay.

According to reports, Branstad had cut Godfrey’s salary from $112,068 to $73,250, the statutory minimum, after Godfrey refused Branstad’s request to resign in 2011. At the time, Godfrey’s attorneys unsuccessfully asked the governor’s office to apologize and to restore his salary level.

Godfrey, who is openly gay, said the former governor’s actions were motivated by discrimination and retaliation, and that they violated Godfrey’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

Branstad said he didn’t know Godfrey was gay and that he wanted a more pro-business commissioner. But Godfrey’s attorney alleged Iowa republicans had supported anti-gay policies. Branstad is a republican.

The state of Iowa is responsible for paying the damages and any additional attorney fees, which have yet to be determined. Current Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has said her office is consulting with its attorneys. There is no word on whether there will be an appeal.

Godfrey is now one of three permanent members and the Chief Judge and Chairman of the federal Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board in Washington, D.C., which hears federal workers’ compensation disputes.

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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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