Iowa News & Analysis

  • Harmless joke or hostile workplace?

    A recent article in the Des Moines Register reported on an employer who was sued for bullying or a hostile work environment related to President Donald Trump's stance on immigration. The employee who sued is an American citizen of Hispanic ethnicity and was offended by the president's comments regarding Mexican immigrants. She alleged that in response, her Caucasian coworkers set out to "tease" her with screensaver images of the president and taunts that she was "illegal"—and they even signed her up as a volunteer for the president's campaign. The case was resolved without a public trial, so we have only one side of the story. However, the story is a useful training tool.

  • Danger in the details—problems in employment applications

    Like a good horror movie, trouble can lurk where you least expect it—under your bed with your old teddy bear, in the closet with your shoes, or on your standard job application. Here's a look at new monsters crawling out from the most innocuous and unlikely places.

  • New DOL program offers self-reporting of wage and hour violations

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced in March 2018 that it is launching a program to allow employers a chance to self-audit their wage and hour practices—and report any violations they find—in exchange for limited protection from additional liabilities and claims. The program, dubbed the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (or PAID) program, will start as a six-month pilot, after which the DOL will decide whether to offer it on a permanent basis.

  • Congress pins down tip-pooling requirements

    When Congress passed another spending bill in March 2018, few people were expecting it to resolve a somewhat obscure and highly technical dispute over how employers allocate tips among their workers. Nevertheless, that's exactly what the law does, and the result is much-needed clarity on the topic. Let's take a closer look at tip pools, their history, and what the new law accomplishes.

  • HR fundamentals can create workplace culture of respect and equality

    Q The #MeToo phenomenon has put employers and HR pros everywhere on notice that employees and others are no longer willing to hide or be quiet about their encounters with sexual harassment and assault. We have stepped up our vigilance and training to identify and root out these issues in our workplace, but of course we know we can do more. In your estimation, what is the big takeaway for employers from this worldwide pushback against offensive behavior? Is this a moment or a movement? Do you think we will ever arrive at a day when our workplaces are free of such inappropriate behavior?

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey finds global engagement levels at all-time high. Global employee engagement levels hit an all-time high in 2017, according to research from Aon, a global professional services firm. The 2017 figures follow a dip in engagement levels the previous year. Aon's analysis of more than five million employees at more than 1,000 organizations around the world found that global employee engagement levels reached 65% in 2017, up from 63% in 2016. The percentage of employees who were highly engaged increased from 24% in 2016 to 27% in 2017. Aon research shows that a five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

  • Challenging payroll quirks and questions for Iowa employers

    Usually payroll moves along smoothly. You record time worked and pay the hourly wage or overtime. Still, every once in a while, a situation crops up that makes you shake your head and start frantically thumbing through your policy manual for an answer. Here are a few common issues.

  • I quit—and it's your fault, so I should get unemployment benefits

    We've seen it all before. An employee gets upset by something at work, decides to quit, and then tries to collect unemployment benefits. Your first thought: Of course she can't receive benefits—she quit!

  • Balancing the free-speech rights of employees and employers

    Everywhere you turn in 2018, people are talking about politics. That includes your workplace. Since President Donald Trump's election in November 2016, it seems like you can't escape the constant drumbeat of other people's political messages. With so much political talk in the air, what can an employer do to ensure that its employees' speech is appropriate without violating their rights?

  • If a picture paints a thousand words, what's wrong with emojis?

    What do a pair of scissors and an eggplant have in common? At first glance, the answer would appear to be "nothing." But what if I told you that in combination, they can constitute a threat of bodily harm?