Iowa News & Analysis

  • New COVID-19 law requires paid sick, family leave

    On March 18, President Donald Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 90-8 earlier that day. The new law requires covered employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) until December 31, 2020. Some of the key requirements are summarized below.

  • Just because it's not harassment doesn't mean it's acceptable

    Recently, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions govern employers in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) held that a supervisor's behavior and comments toward a female employee didn't meet the high threshold to be a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court made it clear, however, that although the conduct didn't amount to an actionable claim, it was inappropriate and shouldn't have been tolerated. The decision is a reminder to employers that although the standard to create a hostile work environment is high, the behavior forming the basis of the claim shouldn't be accepted.

  • Return to common sense: DOL publishes new joint employer regulations

    On January 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published a new final rule on joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the Federal Register, effective March 15. If two companies are joint employers of an employee, they are jointly and severally liable for compliance and damages under the FLSA.

  • Healthcare providers urged to plan for the worst as coronavirus spreads

    As the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to grow in the United States, healthcare employers are urged to review and update their policies and procedures relating to public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks. Providers should be prepared to execute protocols if a suspected or confirmed case is identified within their organization or community. Read on to learn about precautions providers can take now to prepare.

  • Robots making presence known around the office

    Can robots harass humans? And if they do, who is responsible? The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace is stirring up questions about what happens when a programmed bot offends one of your employees or customers.

  • Political talk heating up at work? You have options

    In case you haven't noticed, it's an election year. And it's not just candidates sounding off on the campaign trail. Passionate—even angry—political talk also can spill into the workplace, leaving hurt feelings and lost productivity in its wake. You may feel wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place as you try to keep the peace while striving to be respectful of employees who feel compelled to share their views. While no perfect strategy exists, you aren't helpless. Here are some ideas.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Fighting labor shortage with charter buses. With the unemployment rate hitting historic lows, many employers are struggling to find workers. Package delivery giant FedEx is fighting the problem by turning to chartering buses to bring people in from areas with available workers. The Wall Street Journal featured FedExs program in an article that explains how the company buses workers to its Memphis, Tennessee, hub from areas hours away in Mississippi. The workers earn starting wages of $13.26 an hour, better wages than are available in their home area, where manufacturing jobs have been lost. The busing program runs year-round and was nearing its first anniversary when the article was published.

  • Federal Watch

    Bill gives paid parental leave to 2 million federal workers. A bill including a provision to grant federal workers up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave has passed as part of a larger defense bill backed by President Donald Trump. The bill passed the Senate on December 17 and had previously passed the House. Its expected to provide paid parental leave for more than 2 million federal workers and was backed by Ivanka Trump, the presidents daughter and a key adviser. The parental leave part of the bill was supported by many Democrats and opposed by many Republicans. It was one of the legislative compromises reached during the runup to the impeachment fight.

  • HR Technology

    Hiring platform releases code of ethics for using AI. Modern Hire, a platform aimed at enabling organizations to improve hiring experiences, has released a code of ethics regarding the ethical development and adoption of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in hiring. The code incorporates the following tenets: Modern Hire evaluates only information candidates knowingly provide, it will provide candidates with feedback whenever permitted by clients, it discloses to candidates how their data is being evaluated and used, and it rigorously develops and tests all scoring methodologies for its AI-powered hiring assessments and interviews. The company said its approach and code of ethics reflect a candidate-first, job-relevant approach to the use of technology.

  • I spy a personal surveillance camera in the workplace

    Our director of nursing put a personal surveillance camera in her office that captures both pictures and sound. It streams to her phone, and both she and her husband can view the stream at any time. She didn't ask permission or even tell us about the camera until I discovered it the other day when I was in her office. Is this OK?

    Your question sheds light on the intersection between employee expectations, modern technology, and employment law. It's inappropriate for a manager to set up a surveillance system without coordinating with her employer and working through the pros and cons of the process. And because a third party (i.e., the employee's spouse) has access to the surveillance video, her actions could violate privacy laws in addition to your corporate policies on trade secrets and other confidential matters.