Iowa News & Analysis

  • Disgruntled or defamed: performance feedback under Iowa law

    Performance feedback, even negative feedback, is a critical component of the workplace. Such feedback may lead to improved performance and innovation. On the other hand, it can also lead to discipline and termination. In the latter scenario, employees may lose their jobs and question whether the feedback was fair. Employees, even at-will employees who lose their jobs, may believe the feedback was illegal and damaged their ability to work, resulting in defamation claims. Let's look at what defamation is and how you can minimize your liability.

  • Like the Loch Ness Monster, standards surface on joint employment only to disappear

    Employment law can be mysterious and gray . . . very gray. Like the concepts of Big Foot or Nessy, it can inspire almost mythical and sometimes tragic quests for answers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and other agencies appear preoccupied with assessing whether companies are joint employers with significant joint liability. And as with many myths and legends, the truth is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Now's the time to consider marijuana policy

    State laws legalizing the use of marijuana—whether for medical or recreational use—have been a fast-moving target over the last several years. Currently, there are only 16 states in which marijuana is still illegal for both medical and recreational purposes. And out of those 16, most allow products that contain small amounts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

  • Do you have a ghost of a chance against ghosting?

    If you're like us (and Seth Meyers), you might have a hard time keeping up with all the latest slang terms having to do with new technologies and trends in social interactions and other aspects of modern life. One such term is "ghosting," which is when a person just stops responding to text messages, usually from someone they recently started dating. The term has slowly spread to other situations in which one person suddenly disappears from another person's life, including—you guessed it—when an employee or job applicant is a no-show with no communication or explanation to the employer.

  • Best practices for employer investigations

    A poorly conducted investigation into alleged workplace misconduct can cost your company financially and cause damage to its reputation. A properly conducted investigation, on the other hand, will help you defend your company in the event of a lawsuit and build confidence and trust among your employees. Here are best practices that apply to most investigations.

  • Suspicious timing of intermittent FMLA leave may have a legitimate explanation

    Q We have two employees who are married and work at the same facility. They both have medical certifications for intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave from the same doctor. Our records show they always request intermittent leave at the same time. What can we do to curb this obvious abuse?

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey finds lack of understanding of when workers will retire. U.S. employers are rethinking their approach to managing the retirement patterns of their workforces, according to a study from Willis Towers Watson. The 2018 Longer Working Careers Survey found that 83% of employers have a significant number of employees at or nearing retirement, but just 53% expressed having a good understanding of when their employees will retire. Additionally, while 81% say managing the timing of their employees' retirements is an important business issue, just 25% do that effectively. The survey found that 80% of respondents view older employees as crucial to their success.

  • Everything I need to know about HR I learned from NCIS

    NCIS is a popular TV show that has run for 16 seasons. One of the show's running conceits is the set of rules promulgated by lead investigator Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon). The rules are referenced scattershot throughout the episodes. Sometimes they're self-fulfilling prophecies and at other times contradictory for the plot as well as common sense. While the show itself is an HR nightmare with unpaid overtime, sexual harassment, and a general disdain for any rules but your own, some of Jethro's tenets embody excellent HR principles.

  • How military leave affects Iowa public employees' retirement benefits

    Most employers deal with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and know how the leave affects an employee's benefits. You may be less familiar with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) and how military leave affects benefits. The impact is particularly important for a defined benefit system, such as the Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System (IPERS), which calculates benefits based on years of service and salary.

  • Earning employee trust can reduce your legal liabilities

    "Trust" is a slippery concept. What does it mean for your employees to "trust" you or "distrust" you? And why should you care?