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Des Moines Employment Law Attorney

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No matter what you do for a living, your job and the stability and income it provides are important to you and your family. For many Iowans, discrimination, harassment, unsafe working conditions and a variety of other factors result in unlawful termination, injuries and other issues that strip away the sense of pride and security your job provides. Furthermore, negligence and discrimination on the part of employers and co-workers violate state and federal employment laws.

As an employee, you may feel powerless to change your employer’s policies, workplace environment, or treatment of employees. Know that this is not the case, and you can make a difference. By hiring an experienced employment lawyer to represent you, you could make a positive impact not just for yourself, but for countless others as well. It is vital that you remember that you do have rights, and your employer must treat you with the respect and fairness that you deserve.

Attorney Stuart Higgins and the team at Higgins Law Firm are proud to stand up for the rights of workers in Des Moines and across the state of Iowa. We are here to provide you the qualified legal counsel you deserve, and we’re ready to put our experience to work for you. Contact us at (515) 619-9148 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with us today.

Real-World Experiences Inform Our Methods

Growing up in a working-class family, our firm’s founding attorney, Stuart Higgins, witnessed the effects of workplace injustices firsthand. As an attorney protecting employee rights, he strives to help people understand that they don’t have to live with discrimination in the workplace. By working one-on-one with each client, we listen to their concerns, use our networks and resources to gather evidence and offer support, all while building a strong case to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

Employment law can be complex and can best be explained by an experienced attorney. A few of the most common factors our firm helps clients address include the following:

Hiring and Applications

There are plenty of criteria an employer can use to determine whether or not to hire someone. However, they cannot discriminate based on race, color, religion, pregnancy, national origin, disability or age. If any of these, or other factors played a role in your application or interview, speak with an attorney about your options.

Wage, Hour and Overtime

Minimum wage laws can vary and may even change as lawmakers look to alter federal and state minimums. If your employer fails to provide for overtime or proper compensation, you may have a strong case for pursuing due wages. We will work with you and explain the laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Unsafe Workplace Conditions

Employers have a duty to provide their employees with a safe working environment. It is also illegal for an employer to terminate or discriminate against an employee for bringing attention to unsafe conditions or for filing for workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an injury on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency handling many private employee complaints related to unsafe working conditions.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ comp provides financial compensation for injured or disabled workers suffering from occupation injuries or diseases. Speak with our attorneys to determine if your injury or illness renders you eligible for benefits.

If you’ve been severely injured on the job, it’s probably impossible for you to work while you recover. With serious on-the-job injuries, the medical bills will pile up quickly, and you may be at the mercy of the workers’ comp insurer. You need workers’ comp to help pay your medical bills and cover your lost wages, and the insurer likely it’s going to be eager to help you. This is why you need our attorneys in your corner to fight for you and help you receive the benefits and compensation you deserve.

Paid Time Off

Parental leave is one of the most common reasons for approved long-term time off. If an employer discriminates against a pregnant employee, she may have recourse under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA allows eligible workers to take off up to 12 weeks annually because of their own or a family member’s “serious health condition” or because they recently became a mother or father. While you don’t need to cite the FMLA when requesting time off, your employer should be given enough information so they know a health condition is involved. It’s illegal for your employer to terminate you during your leave or upon your return to work.

Harassment and Discrimination

Ranging from unwelcome flirtation to outright racial discrimination, banter and jokes can quickly cross the line into harassment and create a hostile and intimidating work environment. Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of emotional and verbal abuse, but other forms include discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age and disability.


When an employee has the right to take action, it’s illegal for an employer to punish the employee for taking that action. Iowa has laws to protect public employees from retaliation, such as being terminated for reporting problems like waste, fraud, and abuse in the workplace. While most states have laws that apply to private sector employees, many of these statutes are limited to reports involving workplace safety and health violations. Retaliation may include denying promotion, reducing hours, demoting employees, intimidation, or firing.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Since 1998, Iowa law has enabled private sector employers to conduct drug and alcohol testing of prospective and current employees in certain circumstances. While drug testing has become more prevalent in the last two decades, the law has many requirements that protect workers. Employers often fail to meet these requirements. For example, if an employer terminates you based on a drug test result but did not follow the law, you may be entitled to recover lost wages.

Wrongful Termination

Also known as unlawful termination or wrongful discharge, wrongful termination is a situation where the employee has been fired for a reason that the employee feels is untrue or unfair. In Iowa, like many states, employees work at will, meaning the employee can be fired for any reason – or no reason at all – and at any time. However, your employer can’t fire you for a reason that violates the law. These are often referred to as exceptions to employment-at-will. There are a number of exceptions, including:

  • Discrimination or harassment based on race, age, religion, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation
  • Discrimination or harassment based on your association with someone of a different race, such as being married to someone of another race.
  • Retaliation because you filed a complaint about illegal discrimination or harassment
  • Retaliation because you did something you were legally entitled to do

Get An Employee Rights Attorney On Your Side

Under law, you will lose your rights unless you take action, such as filing a lawsuit or a civil rights complaint, within a reasonable time frame after harassment or discrimination occurs at your workplace. The deadlines for taking action in employment law cases vary, ranging from 45 days to 5 years. It’s important you talk to an Iowa employment attorney as soon as possible regarding your situation so you can meet the deadline.

We Put Our Clients First

Contact our Des Moines law office to discuss your case with a lawyer in confidence. We will listen to your story, offer advice and can help you take action to protect your career. Call 515-619-9148 or send an email by filling out a brief contact form.