Articles Posted in Employment Law

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Claimant, an undocumented worker, underwent surgery in 2007 to correct work-related hernias. Claimant returned to work, but in 2008 Employer terminated Claimant's employment. In 2007, Claimant filed for workers' compensation benefits. A deputy commissioner awarded running healing period benefits from the date of the work-related injury until Claimant reached maximum medical improvement. The Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner affirmed the deputy's decision. The district court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the running award of healing period benefits, the Commissioner was correct in starting healing period benefits at a date prior stipulated date, and Claimant's return to work did not cut off any of her benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) an undocumented worker is entitled to healing period benefits under the Iowa Workers' Compensation Act; (2) the district court did not err in affirming on the issues of substantial evidence and the starting date of Claimant's benefits; and (3) Claimant was not entitled to healing period benefits while she was working. Remanded. View "Staff Mgmt. v. Jimenez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was terminated from his employment as dean of students and vice president of student services at the University of Iowa by the University's president, Sally Mason, after a report from the Stolar Partnership (Stolar), a law firm retained by the Board of Regents (Regents) to investigate the University's response to a sexual assault of a student athlete by other student athletes, came out highly critical of Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued the University, Mason, the Regents, and Stolar for wrongful termination and related causes of action. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err (1) in denying Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery of written communications between Stolar and the Regents based on its finding that the attorney-client privilege protected the communications from disclosure; and (2) in granting summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiff's various claims.View "Jones v. Univ. of Iowa" on Justia Law

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After Plaintiff, an at-will employee, reported a forgery on the part of supervisors at an assisted living facility, the facility terminated Plaintiff's employment. The Department of Inspections and Appeals later concluded that certain state-mandated documents relating to the facility's dementia training program had been forged. Plaintiff subsequently filed an action against the facility for wrongful discharge. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff, finding the facility terminated her in retaliation for whistleblowing and a willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others. The jury also awarded punitive damages. The court of appeals (1) affirmed the court's finding that the public-policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine protected Plaintiff's employment from retaliatory termination, but (2) reversed the court's decision to submit the issue of punitive damages to the jury. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an employer's retaliatory discharge of Plaintiff violated public policy; and (2) the district court should not have submitted the punitive damages claim to the jury because at the time of Plaintiff's discharge, the Court did not recognize a public-policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine based upon a violation of administrative rules.View "Dorshkind v. Oak Park Place of Dubuque II, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dentist fired his long-time female dental assistant (Employee) at the request of his wife after she discovered Dentist and Employee had been texting. Wife claimed Employee "was a big threat" to the marriage. Employee subsequently brought this action against Dentist, alleging that he discriminated against her on the basis of sex. The district court granted summary judgment for Dentist, concluding that Employee was not fired because of her gender but because she was a threat to Dentist's marriage. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Dentist did not engage in unlawful gender discrimination in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act when he fired Employee at the request of his wife.View "Nelson v. Knight" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were employees of limited liability corporations located in Iowa. Plaintiffs filed lawsuits against the businesses and certain individuals affiliated with the businesses, alleging that Defendants violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) by engaging in sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation. The lawsuits demanded punitive damages. Defendants moved to strike the claim for punitive damages. The district court granted the motion, concluding that punitive damages were not available under the ICRA. Plaintiffs sought, and the Supreme Court granted, interlocutory appeal. The Court then affirmed the district court, holding that an award of punitive damages is not permitted under the ICRA.View "Ackelson v. Manley Toy Direct, LLC" on Justia Law