Iowa employers should pay attention to a recent ruling from a New Jersey Appellate Court , Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. 3/27/2019. The Wild opinion is the most recent case addressing the rights of employees who use medical marijuana. Although the Court was addressing the question under New Jersey law, an Iowa court
Although many employers use progressive discipline policies, I am typically not a big fan. In theory progressive discipline seems like a good idea: it allows an employee to learn from their mistakes. It puts the employee on notice that further discipline is going to have more serious consequences. It is difficult for an employee who has gone through the steps to claim surprise when the termination arrives.
On the other hand, progressive discipline limits an employer’s flexibility. Sometimes it is clear an employee isn’t working out, but the company feels bound to go through the steps before terminating. In other cases, the circumstances may warrant giving an employee more chances that the policy allows. In those situations, an employee may be terminated simply because they are on the last step, even though the company would rather keep the employee.Continue Reading Employer’s Consistent Use of Progressive Discipline Defeats Discrimination Claim
In the recent case of Jahnke v. Deere & Co. (May 18, 2018), the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a Deere employee who was repatriated to the United States as discipline for engaging in sexual misconduct while on assignment at a Deere factory in China did not state a claim for discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA)
Jahnke sued Deere in Iowa State Court, alleging the decision to repatriate him from China to a lower paying job in Waterloo, Iowa was based on his age, sex, and national origin. While on assignment as the manager of a Deere factory in China, Jahnke engaged in sexual relationships with two younger, Chinese women who were in his “span of control”, which violated Deere’s policies. Jahnke claimed Deere violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act because his discipline was harsher than that imposed on the female employees with whom he had the relationships.Continue Reading Iowa Civil Rights Act Protections Do Not Apply to Ex-Pat Employee
It is a truism that employers prefer to win discrimination cases on summary judgment rather than go to trial. In most cases, winning on summary judgment means convincing the judge there is not enough evidence that would allow the plaintiff to prove “pretext.” (Pretext: “a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). With pretext, the plaintiff goes to trial; without pretext, the plaintiff goes home and the employer wins.
Continue Reading Recent Ruling from Eighth Circuit Shows an Employer’s Shifting Reasons for Decision May Not Be Evidence of Pretext
As we have written here many times, summary judgment is an important tool for defendants in employment discrimination cases. Studies have shown that in federal court, summary judgment is granted to defendants in employment discrimination cases more than in any other type of case. These studies confirm the experience of most employment lawyers who try cases, whether they represent mostly plaintiffs or mostly defendants.
Continue Reading Summary Judgement in Employment Discrimination Cases May Be Making a Comeback in Iowa State Court
Employers that accommodate employees’ temporary disabilities should consider extending the practice to nursing mothers returning to work following maternity leave. That’s the lesson of a recent opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 11th Cir., 9/7/2017) In Hicks, a City police department’s insistence that an officer return to the beat rather than to allowing her work a temporary desk job resulted in a substantial plaintiff verdict.
Continue Reading Court Affirms Six-Figure Verdict to Nursing Mother Who Quit Because of Employer’s Failure to Provide Suitable Breastfeeding Accommodation
It’s been a difficult three months for central Iowa employers. May, June, and July each saw a million dollar plus plaintiff verdict in an employment discrimination lawsuit. One such verdict in these parts is notable, but three in three months is unheard of until now. Back in January, we noticed juries in other parts…
Whether Title VII protects employees from discrimination based upon sexual orientation is one of the most contentious employment law issues being litigated in the federal courts today. EEOC contends Title VII covers sexual orientation, and a handful of district courts have agreed. But, as of today, every U.S. Court of Appeal to consider the question…
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…
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…