Iowa Employment Law Blog

Iowa Employment Law Blog

Alert and inform about legal issues, risks, and solutions relating to employees

Category Archives: Human Resources Compliance

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Surprise! The Employees of the Vendor You Hired Might be Your Employees Too

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Labor, Wage and Hour
While “joint employment” is not a new legal concept, federal agencies such as the Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board have aggressively sought to expand its application in recent years. A joint employment situation typically occurs when an employer uses an independent contractor or vendor for certain services, or relies upon a staffing… Continue Reading

Honest Belief About Employee’s FMLA Abuse Enough to Defeat Retaliation Claim

Posted in FMLA, Human Resources Compliance
Employee abuse of intermittent FMLA leave is a common employer complaint.   An example of intermittent leave is when an employee occasionally has to take off work because of an ongoing or chronic medical condition.    What happens if the employer suspects the employee uses FMLA covered leave to miss work for non-covered reasons, but does not… Continue Reading

Does the ADA Require an Employer to Treat Disability Related Misconduct More Leniently?

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance
An employee commits an offense that would justify termination.  But, she asks for another chance because the misconduct was not intentional; it was caused by a diabetes induced severe drop in blood sugar that caused confusion and memory loss.    Must the employer be more lenient on an employee with a disability as a form of… Continue Reading

Accommodating Employees’ Mental Health Conditions Presents Unique Challenges

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance
Most employers know they are obligated under the ADA to accommodate mental as well as physical disabilities.  In theory that seems easy enough, but in practice mental health conditions are much more difficult to deal with than physical disabilities.   For example, a common problem is that the employer often lacks specific information about the nature… Continue Reading

Does the ADA Require Reassignment to a Vacant Position as a Reasonable Accommodation?

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
It’s an all too common situation: an employee’s medical condition results in permanent restrictions that prevent the employee from performing essential job functions that she used to be able to do.   It is not reasonable to modify the job so the employee can keep the position.   There is a vacancy in another department for which… Continue Reading

Texas Court Grants Injunction Delaying the Department of Labor’s New Overtime Rules

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Labor, Wage and Hour
On November 22, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing the new overtime rule as scheduled on December 1, 2016. The new rule more than doubled the minimum salary an employee needed to qualify as exempt from overtime under… Continue Reading

Employers Using Mandatory Post-Accident Drug Testing Should Reconsider the Practice in Light of OSHA Rule

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, OSHA
Iowa law has fairly strict limits on an employer’s right to conduct drug and alcohol testing.  One area in which testing is allowed, however, is when there is a workplace accident.  An employer may require an employee to undergo post-accident drug or alcohol testing if the employee is injured and requires medical treatment, or if… Continue Reading

What Does the Fox News Settlement with Gretchen Carlson Mean for Ordinary Employers?

Posted in harassment, Human Resources Compliance, Sex Discrimination, Title VII
The headline was Fox News agreed to pay $20 million to its former anchor Gretchen Carlson to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against its former CEO Roger Ailes.   This is an extraordinary settlement, and not just because of the amount.   Fox News agreed to a public settlement (usually they are confidential); publicly apologized to Ms.… Continue Reading

Is Time Off Work A Reasonable Accommodation?

Posted in Disability Discrimination, FMLA, Human Resources Compliance, Uncategorized
Most of us think about workplace accommodations as modifications that will allow an employee with a disability to perform his job.  Without the accommodation, doing the job may be difficult or impossible. Whether that means modifying the job duties, changing the schedule, or providing an assistive device, the ultimate objective is to help the employee… Continue Reading

Iowa Employers Should Re-Examine Policies on Pregnancy Accommodation

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Sex Discrimination, U.S. Supreme Court
How to best accommodate pregnant employees is a frequent challenge Iowa employers face.    Pregnant employees may be entitled to protection under the laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, as well as those requiring equal treatment based upon gender and disability.  Many employers have tried to walk this fine line with policies that allow… Continue Reading

Don’t Assume An Applicant Is Not Qualified Because a Doctor Says So…

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
A federal district court in Michigan recently granted summary judgment for the plaintiff, (you read that correctly), ruling that the employer was liable for disability discrimination as a matter of law. (Lafata v. Dearborn Heights Sch. Dist. No.7 (E.D. Mich. 12/11/2013)).   A plaintiff hardly ever files for summary judgment in an employment case, let alone… Continue Reading

Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Against Catholic Diocese of Sioux City Tests the Limits of the Ministerial Exception

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Religion
The CFO of Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools in Sioux City claims he was terminated because he is not Catholic.   He recently sued the Diocese, the school, and the Bishop alleging his termination violated the law against discrimination on the basis of religion. Does he have a case? Courts in the United States have uniformly recognized a… Continue Reading

Employee Must Request Extension of Leave to Avoid Application of No-Fault Leave Policy

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
Fixed or no-fault leave policies were once considered easy way to manage attendance and long term leave of absence issues.   Once the employee reaches the maximum number of absences, or is gone the maximum number of weeks on medical leave, the employee is terminated; no questions asked, no exceptions.   The benefit of these kinds of… Continue Reading

Court Finds FMLA Interference Even Though Employee Was Not Qualified to Return to Former Job Because of Her Medical Condition

Posted in FMLA, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
FMLA provides a qualifying employee up twelve weeks of job protected leave. That means the employee is entitled to return to the same position held before the leave, or to an “equivalent position” with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions.   FMLA does not require an employer to restore employment if the employee is unable… Continue Reading

NAACP’s Criticism of Iowa Civil Rights Commission is Misplaced

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Race Discrimination
Two local branches of the NAACP recently issued a report criticizing the Iowa Civil Rights Commission because of the low percentage of “probable cause” findings in discrimination complaints filed with the agency.   Although the report was issued December 31, it was recently publicized in a series of three stories appearing over the course of one… Continue Reading

Facebook Firings and Social Media A Top Priority for NLRB Enforcement

Posted in Employee Privacy, Human Resources Compliance, Labor, Social Networking
Last August the National Labor Relations Board Acting General Counsel issued a report detailing the outcome of investigations into 14 cases involving employee use of social media and social media policies.  A second report issued January 24 on the same subject underscores that social media remains a top NLRB enforcement priority.   In the preface of… Continue Reading

Supreme Court, Executive Branch Take Opposite Approach on Religious Accomodation

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Religion, Title VII, U.S. Supreme Court
We have written many times here about an employer’s obligation to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, so as not to unlawfully discriminate on the basis of their religion. Indeed, according to EEOC statistics, claims of religious discrimination by employees are increasing at a higher rate than most other forms of discrimination. Much less… Continue Reading

What You Don’t Know About the NLRA Might Hurt You

Posted in Human Resources Compliance
The vast majority of private sector employers in Iowa do not have a unionized workforce. Many employers (and employees for that matter) don’t understand that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) still applies to them.     Section 7 of the NLRA grants employees the rights to engage in various kinds of “concerted activities” for the purpose of… Continue Reading

Judge’s Pregnancy Discrimination Ruling Prompts Debate About Work-Life Balance

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Sex Discrimination, Title VII
Last week a federal judge in the Southern District of New York Judge dismissed the EEOC’s long running sex and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against financial media company Bloomberg, LP.    EEOC claimed Bloomberg engaged in a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against pregnant women and mothers returning from maternity leave by reducing their pay, demoting them in title, removing… Continue Reading