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

Search Results for:

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

Recent 8th Circuit Case Likely to Encourage Continued Migration of Age Discrimination Claims to State Court

Posted in Age Discrimination, Litigation and Trials

We have discussed in this blog before the migration of discrimination claims to Iowa state courts rather than federal courts.   The trend is driven by a number of factors, including the recognition in 2005 of the right to a jury trial under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) and the greater propensity of federal courts… Continue Reading

Whatever Happened to…Jack Gross?

Posted in Age Discrimination, Litigation and Trials, U.S. Supreme Court

Remember Jack Gross? Back in 2003 he claimed a demotion from his management job at West Des Moines based FBL Financial Services constituted age discrimination.   A federal jury in the Southern District of Iowa agreed and awarded him $47,000 in damages. From there his case had a remarkable journey: first stopping in St. Louis at the Eighth Circuit,… Continue Reading

Iowa Jury Finds for Plaintiff in Gender Sterotyping Case

Posted in Litigation and Trials, Sex Discrimination, Title VII

A jury in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa recently returned a verdict in excess of $50,000 to a female plaintiff alleging sex discrimination based upon gender stereotypes.   The plaintiff, who was a night auditor at a hotel, claimed she was terminated because she was more masculine than a typical female employee. She described herself… Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Once Again Reviews Age Discrimination Burden of Proof–This Time Under ICRA

Posted in Age Discrimination, Litigation and Trials

Age discrimination cases tried in the Southern District of Iowa continue to generate controversy over how juries should be instructed about the plaintiff’s burden of proof.   First it was Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., tried in the Southern District and ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2009.  Then it was the… Continue Reading

U of Iowa Study Shows Race Not an Important Factor in Hiring NFL Head Coaches

Posted in Race Discrimination

A recent study by University of Iowa economist John Solow found little evidence of racial discrimination in head coach hiring by National Football League Teams.   In 2003, the NFL instituted the "Rooney Rule" to try and increase the number of racial minorities who served as head coaches.  The rule required teams to interview minority candidates… Continue Reading

Summary Judgment: Myths and Realities

Posted in Litigation and Trials

"Is Summary Judgment in Employment Cases a Myth"?  So ask attorneys Teresa Ride Bult and Kate Summers in an excellent article published last month in Law 360.  The authors contend it is becoming more difficult for employers to win on summary judgment, particularly in state court.   Nonetheless, they believe the benefits of filing a summary judgment still outweigh… Continue Reading

Iowa Civil Rights Commission Issues 2009 Annual Report

Posted in Uncategorized

On October 30, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC)  issued its annual report for 2009.   Once again this year, complaints of employment discrimination constituted the vast majority (85%) of the charges.   The non-employment charges (in the areas of credit, education, housing, and public accommodations) make up the remaining 15% of the charges. The total number… 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

An Interesting Interview with Jack Gross

Posted in Age Discrimination, U.S. Supreme Court

Des Moines Register columnist Marc Hansen writes about an interview he had with Jack Gross, the plaintiff in Gross v. FBL Financial, Inc., decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last June.   Mr. Gross was in Washinton, DC last week to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee that is considering amendments to the ADEA that would effectively overrule the Gross decision. … 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

How to Avoid Liability for Discrimination

Posted in Human Resources Compliance, Sex Discrimination, Title VII

A recent decision from the Eighth Circuit provides good training material about what "not to do" if you want to your company to avoid being liable for discrimination, and possibly punitive damages. The EEOC filed suit against Siouxland Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, a medical clinic in Sioux Falls South Dakota.   The complaint alleged that Siouxland terminated… Continue Reading

Obesity as a Protected Class?

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Employee Wellness, Human Resources Compliance

This post in HR Observations (Hat tip: Ohio Employer’s Law Blog) explores whether obesity could be the next characteristic to become protected under the anti-discrimination laws.   A group called the "Obesity Action Coalition" complains that discrimination against obese people is widespread.  Employer concern about rising costs associated with employee health coverage, workers’ compensation costs,  and an emphasis on employee wellness… Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Issues Important Ruling on Affirmative Action

Posted in Sex Discrimination, Title VII

In a ruling issued September 3, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that an employer that follows an affirmative action plan in making an employment decision can be guilty of unlawful race discrimination.    The Court’s decision in Humphries v. Pulaski County Special School District is the first in the Eighth Circuit to address the… Continue Reading

Iowa Supreme Court Issues Important Ruling on Pregnancy Discrimination

Posted in Sex Discrimination, Title VII

Last week the Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling in a pregnancy discrimination case that decided three issues significant to employers and employment litigators.   The first issue in DeBoom v. Raining Rose, Inc. involved whether an employee must actually be pregnant at the time of a termination to be protected by the Iowa Civil Rights Act’s prohibition… Continue Reading

Religious Discrimination vs. Free Speech

Posted in Religion, Title VII

Late August means it’s time for the Iowa State Fair, one of the Top 100 Events in North America, home of corn dogs, the butter cow, and over one million visitors.  One of the interesting side-shows at this year’s fair involved the Des Moines Regional Transit Authority (DART), an atheist organization, and a Christian bus driver.  It all started when… Continue Reading

Update: Religious Discrimination

Posted in Religion, Title VII

Two recent cases out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (which includes Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, and North and South Dakota) serve as important reminders that employers should be alert to potential claims of religious discrimination and religion based harassment occurring in their work places: On July 31, the EEOC… Continue Reading

LinkedIn and Lawsuits–Should You Be Concerned?

Posted in Employee Privacy, Social Networking

There is an interesting debate occurring in the legal blogosphere concerning LinkedIn, a popular business social networking site.   It started with an article a couple of weeks ago in the National Law Journal, where management side lawyers were quoted giving warnings about the dangers of  using LinkedIn to provide recommendations to current or former employees.  … Continue Reading

Text Harassment?

Posted in Employee Privacy, Sex Discrimination, Social Networking

 The National Law Journal reports today that text messages are becoming a growing liability concern for employers.    Offensive and inappropriate texts are increasingly being used as evidence in sexual harassment cases.  According to the article, the main culprit is male bosses sending scandalous messages to female subordinates asking them on dates or making promises in… Continue Reading

Does Your Company Wellness Plan Discriminate?

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Employee Wellness, Human Resources Compliance

A recent study of Iowa employers revealed that 51 percent offered some type of health screening to their employees.  Many companies also offer other "wellness" benefits to encourage employees to exercise and adopt healthy lifestyles.   The wellness program of a prominent Des Moines employer was recently profiled in the Des Moines Register (link here).  Company… Continue Reading

Human Resources Challeges for 2009

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Human Resources Compliance, Sex Discrimination

A recent post at Human Resources Executive Online, entitled "Warnings from the Top".  provides an excellent overview of some of the new challenges employers have been presented since the beginning of 2009.   "Like it or not" say the authors, changes are coming, and employers better be prepared. According to several attorneys the authors interviewed, some… Continue Reading