Iowa News & Analysis

  • Hanky, panky, and spanky: consensual sexual conduct in the workplace

    It starts with a call—sometimes anonymous, sometimes with a name attached—to inform you about something going on at work that you might not be aware of: Two of your employees have become involved in a romantic relationship, and the caller isn't happy about it. As an employer, your first thought is always who is complaining? A client, a customer, a coworker—someone who has a foundation for a possible sexual harassment claim? And what do I need to do about it?

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.

  • Tips to ensure you are prepared for a deposition

    For an HR professional, giving a deposition is a lot like visiting the dentist. You know it's necessary, but you probably aren't looking forward to it. You may be asked questions you don't want to answer (like how often you actually floss). And finally, consistently responsible practices should reduce your stress levels about the event, make it go a lot smoother, and prevent worse problems in the future.

  • Offering benefits to full-time seasonal employees

    Q We are looking to hire seasonal employees, preferably students, to work for 90 to 120 days. They will work 40 hours per week. What benefits must we provide?

  • Workplace Trends

    NFIB speaks out against predictive scheduling laws. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) issued a statement in March in opposition to state and local laws requiring employers to provide hourly workers their work schedules weeks in advance. The organization said such laws aren't always possible or realistic for small businesses. "It severely limits owners' control over their scheduling decisions and urgent business needs," the statement said. The organization pointed to laws in Oregon, Seattle, and San Francisco and said the unpredictability of staff needs in certain industries like construction and hospitality raises concerns. "The laws not only prevent employers from adjusting to market changes, bad weather, or other demands outside their control, but they also prevent employees from picking up additional work hours at a moment's notice or requesting unanticipated time off," the statement said.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB chair claims joint-employment comment review not outsourced. Responding to concerns from congressional Democrats, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chair John F. Ring says his agency is not outsourcing the review of public comments on the joint-employer standard. In March, Ring wrote a letter to Bobby Scott, chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and Frederica S. Wilson, chair of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor & Pensions, saying the Board has not outsourced the substantive review of comments on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on what constitutes joint employment. Instead, he said the NLRB decided "to engage temporary support on a limited, short-term basis to perform the initial sorting and coding of the public comments." He said the process ensures confidentiality protections are in place, and the Board's professionals will perform the first substantive review of the comments.

  • DOL proposes long-awaited overtime rule, issues more opinion letters

    Last month was a busy time for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The agency issued a much-anticipated new rule governing overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as three new opinion letters covering the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the FLSA.

  • Transgender rights in the workplace

    In the first quarter of 2019, two court decisions reinforced that the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) protects gender identity (i.e., transgender individuals) from being treated differently. The first case was a jury verdict in favor of a transgender man (meaning he was assigned female at birth and presents as a male) who worked as a nurse for the state of Iowa/Iowa Department of Corrections. He alleged his employer denied his use of the men's restroom and locker rooms and denied insurance coverage for a medical procedure because of his gender identity. A jury agreed and awarded him $120,000 in emotional distress damages for this discrimination. The evidence at trial showed his employer singled him out by forcing him to travel away from his worksite to use a single-stall, gender-neutral restroom. He was also denied a medically necessary procedure to treat his gender dysphoria, the psychiatric diagnosis in which a person's biological sex conflicts with their gender identity.

  • Know the legal issues you face when employees work past 65

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 69 are still employed. That number has been steadily rising, and it's expected to reach 36 percent over the next five years.

  • Walmart greeter fiasco provides important employment lessons

    Have you ever walked into a Walmart and been greeted by an employee—frequently disabled or elderly—who seemed to have no responsibilities other than to welcome customers to the store? Did you ever wonder what the point of the position was or why a corporation the size of Walmart would pay so many people to do it?