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West Des Moines Employment Law Blog

Does FMLA cover spouses working for the same employer?

Iowa employers and employees should be aware of all aspects of the Family and Medical Leave Act. For covered workers, it provides unpaid leave for as much as 12 workweeks without the employee needing to fear for his or her job. While the basics of the law might be relatively easy to understand, there are subsets that people who fall into certain categories should know about. In some cases, both spouses will work for the same employer. This can affect their FMLA leave in a variety of ways. When there is a problem with spouses and FMLA, it can be the basis for a legal filing.

In certain circumstances, there is a limit to the amount of time spouses who work for the same employer can take. If a couple is married, is married based on common law or is in a same-sex marriage, they are considered spouses. For spouses who work for the same employer, there is a limit of a total of 12 workweeks leave in 12 months for the following FMLA-based reasons: a child was born and the parents are bonding with the infant; a child was placed with the couple to be adopted or to be in foster care and they would like to bond with the child; and if there is a parent who has a serious health issue who needs to be cared for.

Teen sisters file sexual harassment claim in Iowa

In Iowa, there is an expectation that anyone who has a job will be free of the looming problem of sexual harassment. It is against the law to subject people to this level of harassment in the workplace but, as the recent news has shown, that does not stop a significant number of people from partaking in the practice despite its illegality and the consequences that accompany it. This behavior is made worse when it happens to young people who are just starting out. Those who are affected by sexual harassment might not know where to turn or that they have certain rights. Understanding that the behavior is against the law and discussing the case with an attorney can provide information on how to move forward.

A bar is facing a lawsuit for allegations that workers at the establishment committed sexual harassment against two teens who worked there. The female teens had been hired as table runners in the late-summer of 2016. They assert that they faced harassment almost immediately. The lawsuit was recently filed. In it, they claim that a cook rubbed himself against one of them and grabbed her buttocks and breasts. He is also accused of locking the girls in the walk-in freezer after which he turned off the lights as other employees observed his behavior.

Employer retaliation happens to some who report harassment

Many people who experience workplace harassment, abuse or discrimination, are reticent to come forward about their experiences. One of the most common reasons for people to choose to ignore workplace harassment is fear of getting punished for making the complaint. This practice, called employer retaliation, is patently illegal, but that doesn't stop businesses from engaging in it.

While it's impossible to know exactly how many people have to deal with employer retaliation as a result of reporting mistreatment, it's common enough that many people know someone who has had to deal with it. Instead of simply accepting the poor behavior of your coworkers or employer, you should stand up against harassment and any retaliation from your employer that follows.

Can I have FMLA leave for birth of a child and adoption?

Iowans who are concerned about managing both their job and attempts to expand their family should be aware of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Many will have a vague notion of the basics of FMLA, but will not realize that it extends beyond pregnancy and maternity leave to the prospective parent being granted time off and job protection if he or she is adopting a child. When there is an issue with this or concerns about it, a legal professional is vital to the case.

Under FMLA, the worker can take as much as 12 work weeks off within a 12-month period and not face dismissal or any other reprisal. An employee can use those 12 weeks if it is for the birth of a child and the parent would like to bond with the newborn within one year of birth. When using birth and bonding, it must be done as a single, continuous block of leave. The employer has the option of allowing the parent to take intermittent leave, but is not required to do so.

Poll examines evolving Iowa attitudes about sexual harassment

With the growing number of people who are coming forward with their experience with sexual harassment in Iowa and across the nation, research is being conducted to gauge how prevalent and widespread the problem is. One study from the Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa indicates that around one in four women in the state had dealt with sexual harassment at work in the past three years. Sexual harassment is defined as co-workers giving unwanted sexual attention. That includes making comments and physical contact.

The poll centered on women who worked outside the home. Forty-one percent stated that they had been subjected to this treatment at some juncture while they worked. Men were also confronted with sexual harassment as nine percent said they have had it happen to them in their careers. Two percent say it happened in the previous three years. Some who took part in the poll stated they believed they could not tell what happened to them publicly due to the potential issues at work. Others mentioned unwanted physical contact, inappropriate comments and flirting that turned aggressive.

Legal help is key for disability discrimination at work in Iowa

People in Iowa and across the nation who have disabilities have the right to seek work just like anyone else and be treated reasonably and fairly while there. Unfortunately, not all workplaces are friendly to people who are disabled whether they are seeking the job or are already working there. For people who are confronted with this type of employment discrimination, it is important to realize that they have rights under the law. Filing a lawsuit because of disability discrimination can help them be compensated and put a stop to the treatment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and it provides disabled people with the chance to work as well as an understanding of their civil rights in general. Workplaces are required to make changes to allow disabled people to work except in instances when it leads to an undue burden. If that is found to be the case, then the adjustments to the workplace do not need to be made and it will not be a legal violation not to make them.

More Iowans feel compelled to report sexual harassment

Sexual harassment has been an issue in Iowa and across the nation for many years. Its prevalence and the impunity with which those who take part in the activities believe they can behave has contributed to the culture and stopped people from filing a sexual harassment claim or even saying that they have been a victim of harassment. However, the floodgates have seemingly opened in industries across the spectrum. Although the government, Hollywood and the news business are the ones that attract notice, greater vigilance and acceptance that this occurs regularly is sparking increased reporting.

More and more people are coming forward with their own experiences with sexual harassment in the workplace and Iowans are becoming more comfortable in exposing those who have harassed them. Advocacy groups that help victims of sexual harassment in the state say that the hashtag #MeToo has inspired people to speak out. It is imperative for a victim of harassment to understand that the simple fact that he or she might not be in an industry that will garner headlines due to the reports of harassment is not a reason to stay silent.

Follow these tips to prove workplace harassment

Many sexual harassment claims work around a he-said-she-said situation. This is what often makes them very hard to prove. However, with a few basic evidence-gathering techniques, you can have the proof you need to confidently make your claim as a sexual harassment victim.

You do not have to be a detective to gather evidence to support a sexual harassment. With the below tips, you can get the proof you need to move forward with a workplace harassment claim in West Des Moines.

An alleged victim of harassment should know its two basic types

Iowa workers who believe they have been a victim of harassment should be aware of the legal requirements for unlawful harassment. There are two basic types and there are certain criteria for when it is considered a legal violation. In today's world, while harassment in its various forms is being treated more seriously, it is imperative that workers who believe they have been victimized by it understand when the criteria to seek compensation has been met.

The first type of unlawful harassment is quid pro quo. In general, this leads to a decision on the person's employment being based on accepting or rejecting unwelcome sexual advances or requests that sexual favors be given as terms of employment. However, there can also be a religious nature aspect of unwelcome conduct in the workplace. Quid pro quo is most frequently committed by someone who can affect the victim's work status. Examples can be a demotion for the person failing to cooperate in the sexual requests; a requirement that the employee take part in religious activities; or a supervisor offering a promotion or preferential treatment in exchange for taking part in the sexual demands or the religion of the supervisor.

What is sexual harassment and what are examples of it?

The news is filled with an increasing number of stories about sexual harassment taking place across a wide range of industries with more coming seemingly every day. Iowans who have been subjected to this treatment at work or believe they might have been are undoubtedly paying strict attention to how these allegations are treated. However, it is an ongoing question as to what constitutes sexual harassment and when various behaviors do not meet the criteria of being considered sexual harassment. Knowing whether behavior has reached the threshold of sexual harassment is the first step to seeking compensation in a legal filing.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances, requests to provide sexual favors, and verbal or physical acts that are sexual. For it to be considered a violation of the law, there must be certain factors in place: there must be an implied or detailed condition on the part of the person making the request that it is required for employment; submitting to it or rejecting it can affect the employment and future opportunities; or the conduct creates a work environment that is offensive, hostile or intimidating.