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West Des Moines Employment Law Blog

Are you a victim of workplace harassment?

When workers in Iowa are considering whether the treatment they are subjected to at work constitutes a violation of the law against harassment, it is important to understand the two kinds of harassment that can take place. While there are subsets with these two types of harassment, the basics are important when determining if the violation met the standard to be a legal violation of the terms of employment and it is possible to file a claim to be compensated. According to the law, there are two kinds of illegal harassment. They are "quid pro quo" and a "hostile work environment."

With quid pro quo, also called "this for that," the employee is pressured to accept sexual advances that are not wanted or acquiesce to sexual favors in exchange for the job or advancement in the job. The employee might face sanctions or outright termination for rejecting the sexual advances. There are other ways in which quid pro quo can take place, such as pressuring an employee to take part in religious services. Those who make employment decisions, such as hiring, promoting, demoting and firing, are often perpetrators of quid pro quo harassment.

Woman claims school district subjected her to wage discrimination

In Iowa and across the nation, stories about people being harassed and mistreated at work are increasingly prevalent. Wage and gender discrimination can make it difficult for a person to function effectively on the job. It can even result in them losing the job by deciding to leave because they can no longer stand the abuse or by being wrongfully terminated. If there is a belief that any type of employment law violations negatively affected a person's work, a legal filing can be used to pursue compensation.

A lawsuit asserting that wage discrimination and gender discrimination was filed by a former school district official recently. She says that she was paid $80,000 annually when she took the job, but later discovered that male workers were receiving higher pay for doing the same work. She came to this realization in 2015 after looking at how the salaries were structured. In her filing, she says that she received positive reviews and was complimented on her work. When her salary reached $87,850, her wages were frozen.

How is leave calculated when using FMLA?

For Iowa workers who qualify for job protection and time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it is not a simple matter of taking the time off without meeting certain requirements. The basics are easily understood. Workers can use FMLA for as much as 12 workweeks off. Those who are serving as a military caregiver can get up to 26 workweeks off. One factor that is frequently misunderstood is how leave usage is calculated. Understanding that is critical to FMLA and taking the time off.

When a worker takes time off through their FMLA rights, the leave they took is all that can be counted against their allotment. For example, if an employee uses FMLA for less than the entire workweek, the amount used will be proportional. There is a mathematical formula for this. Workers who take 10-hours off out of a normal 30-hour workweek will have used one-third of their FMLA.

Youth workers and age discrimination: What to know

If you're worried about how you're going to be treated on the job, one of the concerns you have may be about your age. Age discrimination certainly is a problem in the United States, particularly for those age 40 and older.

Age-based harassment laws address the negative treatment of workers who are 40 years of age, but they don't necessarily protect those under 40. If you're under 40, there are still a few things you should be aware of involving federal laws and age discrimination.

Employee who complained because of sexual harassment was ignored

When an Iowan is the victim of harassment, complaining about it to those in a position of power in the workplace will do something to put a stop to it. This belief is true with sexual harassment or any other type of ill treatment. When those in a position of power fail to act, it can make the situation untenable for the harassed employee as the abuse might become worse with it being harder to stay in the job. For those who have taken all the necessary steps according to the law to address the issue and have not received the desired results, a lawsuit can be the last resort, help to rectify the situation and receive compensation for the abuse.

A female state worker who was being harassed by an Iowa State trooper complained to a captain and was told that she should deal with the issue on her own. The incident came to a head in August of 2017 when the alleged victim, a legislative security coordinator, said she was afraid of the trooper and wanted his behavior to stop. She sent this information via email. He was sending her messages via social media asking to meet and have a relationship with him. She felt fear due to an incident when his gun fired under questionable circumstances in late 2016.

Iowans do not need to accept sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment is a prominent issue. While more and more people who are in positions of power are being held responsible for their behavior, there remains a stigma attached to those who are mistreated in this way and want to take steps to put a stop to it. That fear is understandable as so many different people have been blamed or outright called liars for reporting that they are a victim of harassment.

Despite that concern, everyone has a right to a harassment-free workplace and a law firm experienced in all areas of sexual harassment cases can help to seek justice. The laws against sexual harassment apply to every workplace whether it is a white-collar job or a blue-collar job. Being subjected to unwelcome treatment due to the person's gender by a superior or a coworker is against the law. What many are not aware of is that it is also illegal and will be considered sexual harassment if a person is harassed by a customer or client and even if the person is a witness to another person being harassed.

When is there probable cause of workplace discrimination?

When an Iowan believes he or she has been subjected to employment discrimination, they can exercise their employee rights by considering a legal filing. Regardless of how or why the person was discriminated against, there are certain basic factors that must be considered when moving forward with a case. One is if there is probable cause to believe there has been discrimination.

Even if there is concern that it might not completely meet the criteria under the law or there is any level of confusion, it might still be possible to file a claim. There is probable cause when the person has reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination has taken place. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) will investigate the claims and make the decision as to whether there is probable cause. The facts and circumstances must be enough to produce a reasonable belief that the claim is true.

What is the timeline for an employment complaint?

Iowa workers who believe their civil rights were violated when subjected to some form of employment discrimination will have a great deal to consider as they weigh their options. This includes how to move forward with a case, what the law says about their situation and how they can continue with their employment if they are dealing with the issues encapsulated in these circumstances. The basics are frequently overlooked in these cases. One such factor is the complaint processing timeline.

Although this might seem secondary, it is an important part of a case. When a signed complaint is sent to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the parties involved will subsequently receive a copy of it. They will also receive a questionnaire. This generally takes place within five days of its filing. Those involved will then receive 30 days from the date on the notification to issue a response.

Whistleblowers do have protections under federal and state laws

You knew that there were unusual things going on at your business, and you thought that your employer might be defrauding the government. You didn't want to say anything for fear of losing your job, but you know that there is something wrong with this situation.

If everything is as you say, you could be in a position to become a whistleblower. A whistleblower is any employee who reports an employer who is violation of the law. It doesn't have to be defrauding the government. It could be sexual harassment, violating environmental regulations or other issues. The real issue for you, as you may already realize, is knowing whether or not you are protected if you turn your employer in to the authorities.

Women in sexual harassment suit get important victory

In Iowa and across the nation, greater attention is being paid to incidents in which workers are sexually harassed on the job. For many jobs that are frequently male-dominated, women who have worked in that environment have been subjected to offensive sexual comments, sexual innuendo, unwanted touching and more. This has been ongoing, regardless of any social movements to put an end to it. Many women have taken these issues to court. One case has given an important victory for female Iowa truck drivers who filed a class-action lawsuit about this treatment.

In the lawsuit, more than 100 female truckers complained about sexual harassment. A judge unsealed the documents of that case. With this release of documents, it was shown that the workers did not act appropriately to allegations of sexual harassment made by female workers. The plaintiffs say workers regularly took part in sexually harassing behaviors. They also made various threats, including violence and rape. And, they showed them their genitals and touched them.