Iowa News & Analysis

  • Freedom of speech: What are employees allowed to say?

    With all the discussion about the right to freedom of speech surrounding NFL players "taking a knee" during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and societal discrimination, employers have become confused and uncertain about the scope of any free-speech rights employees might have in the workplace. Part of the problem is, there's a very different standard for private-sector employers and employers in the public sector.

  • High court upholds arbitration agreements that bar class actions

    In recent years, one of the most highly disputed issues in employment law circles was whether an employer could require employees to waive their right to participate in a class action lawsuit and instead submit employment-related disputes to binding arbitration. Such a requirement has become a common condition of employment contracts, typically entered into at the beginning of an employment relationship, and/or as a condition of continuing employment.

  • Planning and education are key to successful HSA

    Over the past decade, the percentage of employers offering a health savings account (HSA) to their employees has grown dramatically. HSAs are a form of "consumer-driven health plan," a category of employee benefit that strives to place more responsibility on employees to be better consumers of health care. In short, employees pay 100 percent of the deductible under a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). In return, they are given the opportunity to contribute to an HSA, which offers substantial tax benefits.

  • An attendance bonus can't interfere with protected leave

    Q Our company recently implemented a weekly attendance bonus based on working the entire work schedule. The policy states employees must be "present" for the entire week and will not earn the bonus if they use vacation or are on any type of leave. Is this policy legal?

  • Workplace Trends

    Study finds link between workers' clothing and chances for promotion. Research from staffing firm Office Team finds that 86% of professionals and 80% of managers believe that clothing choices affect someone's chances of being promoted. The research shows that HR managers say that jeans, tennis shoes, and leggings are more acceptable to wear to work now than five years ago. In the same time frame, employers have become less tolerant of tank tops, tops that expose one or both shoulders, and shorts. The study found that 44% of senior managers have talked to an employee about inappropriate attire, and 32% have sent staff home based on what they were wearing.

  • Stormy days and muddy waters: wading into defamation claims

    Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, is suing a sitting U.S. president for defamation. She claims she had a brief affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet about it on the eve of the 2016 election. President Trump tweeted his thoughts about her credibility, and the defamation lawsuit followed. Roy Moore, the unsuccessful Republican candidate from Alabama who ran to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate, is suing four of his accusers for defamation and conspiracy, alleging their claims about his sexual misconduct toward them when they were teens were lies aimed at discrediting him.

  • Don't forget to check with your lawyer when drafting employment agreements

    With the increased availability of resources online, you or your employees may be tempted to cut corners and draft legally binding employment documents. As one Iowa business recently learned, however, that may not be the best practice because it can lead to unfavorable and expensive legal consequences. When entering into contracts with another business or an employee, you should always check with your lawyers first.

  • New tax credit rewards companies that offer paid FMLA leave

    Employers that offer paid family and medical leave may get an unexpected tax benefit next year at tax time. The tax reform law that passed earlier this year contains a little-noticed tax credit for employers that provide qualifying types of paid leave to their fulland part-time employees. The credit is available to any employer, regardless of size, if:

  • WHD issues more opinion letters

    In a follow-up to its recent reissuance of 17 opinion letters that had been issued (by the Bush administration) and withdrawn (by the Obama administration) in early 2009, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has already issued two more opinion letters. As you may recall, the agency had stopped providing such letters during the Obama administration, but the Trump DOL has revived the practice.

  • Reeling in exempt employees who take partial days off

    Q We are considering having exempt employees account for their time away from work in increments of one hour. Is there a specific law that requires exempt employees to take paid time off (PTO) in increments of either four hours (half a day) or eight hours (a full day)?