Iowa Employment Law Blog

Iowa Employment Law Blog

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

Published By Patrick D. Smith

Category Archives: Human Resources Compliance

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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

Supreme Court Expands (Again) the Universe of Employees Protected From Retaliation

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Title VII, U.S. Supreme Court
In a unanimous decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the universe of employees who might be protected from retaliation under Title VII and other federal employment laws. A retaliation claim is based upon an employer’s adverse action taken in response to an employee’s “protected activity”. Typically, protected activity includes things such as making a complaint… Continue Reading

Employers Should be Aware of the Risks, as well as the Benefits, of Using Leased Workers

Posted in Human Resources Compliance
An Article in Sunday’s Des Moines Register pointed to an increase in the hiring of temps as an early sign of economic recovery.    One of the benefits to employers of temporary workers, the article noted, is that they provide a company with flexibility when market conditions are uncertain. “Companies feel more comfortable using temporary work forces” in… Continue Reading

Should the Decision to Terminate an Employee Who Uses the “N-word” Depend Upon the Employee’s Race?

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Race Discrimination
A federal judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently waded into this thorny subject. The case is Burlington v. News Corp., in which a white television reporter for the Fox affiliate in Philadelphia alleges he was terminated for using the “n-word”.  The suit claims black employees who also had uttered the word were not even disciplined. It all started… Continue Reading

What’s Ahead in Discrimination Litigation for 2011?

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
One of the best ways to predict this year’s trends in discrimination litigation is to examine last year’s charge statistics from the EEOC and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.    Any person who claims a violation of the state or federal anti-discrimination laws must first file an administrative charge with one or the other of these agencies.   … Continue Reading

The DOL’s Lawyer Referral Arrangement with ABA Not Likely to Help Employers or Employees

Posted in FMLA, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials, Wage and Hour
On the Friday before Thanksgiving, Vice-President Biden announced at a Middle Class Task Force event the creation of a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Bar Association.   According to the press release associated with the event, the purpose the collaboration is to “help workers resolve complaints received by DOL’s wage and… Continue Reading

Is There More to the Story About the New Mom Who Quit Her Job Because She Was Denied Access to a Lactation Room?

Posted in Human Resources Compliance
Last week a mother quit her job soon after returning from maternity leave because she claims her employer denied her access to a lactation room for three days (See Des Moines Register story here).    Apparently, the employer had a lactation room on the premises as required by federal law. But, according to a complaint filed with the… Continue Reading

Social Networking 101: What Does It Mean for Employers?

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Social Networking
Several commentators have identified the proliferation of social networking as one of most important new developments/challenges/obstacles that employers faced in 2009, and will continue to deal with in the foreseeable future. Despite all the discussion in blogs and other places about this phenomenon, for those who do not spend lots of time in this arena,  there is not… Continue Reading

Random Thoughts to End the Year

Posted in Human Resources Compliance
It seems common sense that a lawyer or witness would not answer a ringing cell phone in the middle of a court proceeding, but it happens enough that judges now have to have rules about it. Molly DiBianca at Delaware Employment Law Blog takes on the entitlement mentality of some  employees who think they should be allowed… Continue Reading

Reviewing Handbooks Should Be a Priority in the New Year

Posted in Human Resources Compliance
Update-January 6, 2010:  For information on how employee handbooks, and particularly safety plans, can contribute to lower insurance costs, see Lara Utter’s recent post in Iowa Biz. There is no federal or Iowa law that requires an employer to have a handbook–but most of us do anyway.   While handbooks can be quite useful for communicating information… Continue Reading

E-mail as Evidence Isn’t Everything

Posted in Employee Privacy, Human Resources Compliance, Litigation and Trials
One of the biggest worries of lawyers defending against employee lawsuits is the stray statement in an e-mail that can be blown up or taken out of context.    We are constantly warning clients that, before they click "send",  they should think about how an e-mail will look to a jury.  However, the recent acquittal of two former… Continue Reading

Weekly Web Roundup, October 30, 2009

Posted in Disability Discrimination, FMLA, Human Resources Compliance, Sex Discrimination, Title VII
The EEOC has revised its "Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law" poster.    The poster was revised to reflect new federal employment laws, including the ADA Amendments, and the Genetic Non Discrimination in Employment Act ("GINA").  Employers can either obtain a new poster, or a supplement their existing poster.   The new posting is mandatory effective November 21, 2009. … Continue Reading

Weekly Web Roundup: October 16, 2009

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Social Networking, Wage and Hour
Wage and hour collective actions remain active in Iowa.  A Judge in Clinton County just approved a collective action settlement in which Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle claims that it failed to pay overtime, properly account for breaks, and altered time records.   Employees and former employees who worked for Wal-Mart in Clinton between 1999-2009 will… Continue Reading

Weekly Web Roundup: October 2, 2009

Posted in Age Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Social Networking, Wage and Hour
More signs this week that the federal government is ramping up enforcement of employment laws.  The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division is seeking a $22 million budget increase for 2010, and is seeking to hire 50 new attorneys.   Law Memo Employment Law Blog reports that the EEOC has been very active recently in filing lawsuits.   The Agency  filed 32 lawsuits against employers… Continue Reading