Iowa Employment Law Blog

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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 may it find it persuasive when the issue comes up here, because of important similarities between the Iowa and New…
Because so few employees are represented by a union (just over 6 percent of private sector employees in the U.S.) most employers don’t have to deal with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) on a regular basis, if ever.   But, it’s important to remember that employees who are not represented by unions also have NLRA rights, and most employers are also subject to the law.   An employer in New York recently found that…
On March 14, the Department of Labor issued an opinion letter to answer the following two questions about FMLA leave:  1) may an employer delay designating leave as FMLA covered, even if the leave is for a FMLA qualifying reason, to allow the employee to exhaust paid leave first;   2) may an employer expand an employee’s FMLA leave beyond the statutory 12 week entitlement.    In the DOL’s opinion, the answer to both questions is…
In a widely publicized move, the U.S. Department of Labor on March 7 proposed an update to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations governing employees who are exempt from overtime.   The most significant change in the proposal is to raise the minimum salary an employee must earn to qualify as exempt from overtime.  The existing minimum salary is $455 per week; the new proposed minimum salary is $679 per week, a 49 percent increase.   …
Claims of sexual harassment typically involve the behavior of fellow employees.   But, an employer’s potential liability for sexual harassment also extends to conduct by a non-employee, such as a customer, client, or patient, that creates a hostile work environment. The principle of employer liability for harassment by a non-employee third-party presents particular challenges to the long term care industry.   The problem occurs when the harasser is a resident or patient with dementia or other diminished…
How much extra leave is reasonable for an employee who has exhausted FMLA but is not yet capable of returning to work? Does an employer have to keep the absent employee’s job open?  What medical evidence is needed?   How much interactive dialogue is enough?  What about an employee is who is unreasonable and/or demanding? A recent opinion from the Eighth Circuit provides helpful guidance about these and other problems employers face when deciding whether extended…
This is a question about which Iowa employers are increasingly concerned.  The probability your employees and applicants for employment have used marijuana in some form has substantially increased in recent years.    Medical marijuana use is now legal in 34 states and the District of Columbia.  Recreational use is legal in ten states.    But, marijuana is still classified as a “Schedule I” drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, making it illegal to possess, use, or…
In 1990 Congress enacted the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) out of concern that employees terminated  as part of a Reduction in Force (RIF) did not fully understand the rights they were giving up in exchange for the payment of severance benefits.   Under OWBPA, a severance agreement entered into with a terminated employee over age 40 is not valid unless the agreement contains certain provisions.   Among other things, the release is supposed to be…
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…
Publisher’s Note:  Today’s guest post is provided by Brandon Underwood, one of my colleagues at Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.   Hopefully Brandon will catch the blogging bug and continue to post…. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids medical examinations and inquiries in employment.  But not all of them.  Instead, an examination or inquiry’s permissibility, and scope, turns primarily on when it occurs.  Too early, and the examination violates the ADA.  Too late, and it may…