Iowa Employment Law


Are you a salaried management employee?  Has your employer classified you as exempt and not paid you overtime?  If so, you may be entitled to compensation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  Erbe Law Firm is actively seeking to represent salaried management employees, including store managers and assistant managers, who may have been misclassified as exempt by their employers.  We have litigated and are currently litigating numerous overtime lawsuits on behalf of salaried management employees.  Please call for a free initial consultation if you are interested in exploring whether you are entitled to overtime.

Employment law governs the entire relationship between employer and employee.  Employment law is a broad category that covers many different possible employment situations.  Here are some situations that arise more frequently than others.

Common Types Of Employment Issues

Employment discrimination: Employment discrimination occurs when an employee suffers an adverse employment action, such as failure to hire, failure to promote, termination, or unequal pay and other compensation because of an employer's discrimination based on a protected classification.  The protected classifications are nationality, race, sex, gender, age, disability, religion, pregnancy, and, under Iowa state law, sexual orientation.  Please visit our Employment Discrimination page for additional information.

Drug and alcohol testing: Private employers often require drug and alcohol tests for employees and then discipline or fire employees if a test is positive.  Drug and alcohol tests are often administered after workplace accidents or as part of the hiring process.  We have created a separate page on Iowa's drug and alcohol testing law in an effort to better educate private sector employees about their drug and alcohol testing rights.  We encourage you to review that information if you have any concern about a drug or alcohol test.

Workplace Harassment:  Employers can be liable for damages when they allow employees to harass other employees based upon nationality, race, sex, gender, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, or, under Iowa law, sexual orientation.  There are various types of harassment, including:

  • Making sexual advances
  • Offensive jokes or remarks, including those that are sexually or racially offensive
  • Offering benefits related to performing sexual favors ("Quid pro quo")
  • Third-party harassment - When an observer or bystander is harmed by jokes, postings, or commentary of others, which often involves sexually or racially offensive conduct
  • Hostile work environment - When an employer maintains an environment over time that adversely impacts an employee's state of mind, such as a sexually or racially abusive environment.
  • Retaliation - When an employer adversely singles out an employee due to rejection of harassing behavior or a hostile working environment
  • Offensive physical touching

For more detailed information regarding harassment and hostile work environments, please visit our web page on those topics.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The Family Medical Leave Act guarantees eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave due to a serious health issue, either their own or a family member's.  Employees are also guaranteed to be returned to their original position when they return as well as continued benefits. 

Not all employers are included in the FMLA.  Covered employers include governmental entities and agencies and private employers with at least 50 employees who are engaged in interstate commerce.  Workers must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for FMLA.

Employers cannot refuse legitimate requests for time off from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act when made by a covered employee.  Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who request or take time off under the FMLA.  You may have a claim under the FMLA if your employer has responded to your FMLA requests by:

  • Demoting you
  • Refusing to keep your job open for you when you return to work
  • Terminating you
  • Reprimanding you, writing you up, or otherwise disciplining you
  • Any other action affecting the terms and conditions of your employment

The FMLA allows for financial compensation in many instances of FMLA violations, including the recovery of attorney fees and litigation expenses.  For more detailed information regarding your rights under the FMLA, please visit our Family and Medical Leave Act page.

Wage Law: Multiple overlapping federal and state wage and hour laws govern your employer's wage practices.  We have experience in and can help you understand your legal rights in wage cases.  Our courtroom expertise includes claims asserting minimum wage violations, failure to timely pay full compensation, failure to timely and fully pay all earned wages upon termination, failure to pay earned commissions or bonuses, and unlawful wage deductions or withholdings.  Please visit our Iowa Wage Law page for more specific information regarding wage payment claims.

Overtime Law: Many employers unlawfully fail to pay required overtime to their employees.  Employers often either conclude that an employee is not entitled to overtime at all or, knowing that the employee is entitled to overtime, pay less overtime than the employee is entitled to.   We have created a separate page on federal overtime law in an effort to educate employees about their overtime rights.  We encourage you to review that information if you have any concern about your employer's overtime practices.

Wrongful Termination: Iowa is an employment-at-will state, allowing Iowa employers to terminate employees without cause, explanation, or notice in most instances.  But there are strict and clear state and federal laws and court decisions protecting employees from wrongful termination in certain circumstances.  For example, you may have a wrongful termination claim if you suspect you were fired:

  • For reporting instances of workplace harassment or discrimination
  • For not tolerating sexual, race, or other forms of workplace harassment or discrimination
  • Because of sex, gender, race, physical or mental disability, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, or age
  • In retaliation for taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, filing a workers' compensation claim, filing a wage or overtime claim, filing an unemployment benefits claim, testifying under oath against your employer, or trying to enforce other select employment rights
  • For reporting a safety violation
  • For reporting a wage and hour law violation
  • For issues relating to The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
  • Because of a drug or alcohol test

There are many other examples of situations where you may have a wrongful termination claim.  We've offered additional information on our page dedicated to wrongful termination law

Noncompete Agreements: Noncompete agreements are generally valid and enforceable under Iowa law.  Employees often incorrectly assume that noncompete agreements are never enforceable.  That's a dangerous misconception because breaching a noncompete agreement can result in the entry of court injunctions and money damage awards against you.  If you've gone to work for a competitor in violation of a noncompete agreement, you might get your new employer sued too.  So take caution when deciding how you'd like to handle your noncompete agreements. 

Ready To Fight For You

Our Des Moines employment law firm has tried numerous employment law cases.  Our cases have included overtime claims; unpaid wage, bonus, and commission claims; various types of employment discrimination; hostile work environments and harassment; FMLA matters; employee drug and alcohol testing claims; noncompete agreements; and wrongful termination claims.  If you have questions about an employment situation, please take a moment to learn about your rights by reviewing the information provided on this site. We also offer additional, more specific information about various topics at our on-site and off-site blogs that we hope you'll find helpful.  If, after reviewing this information, you'd like to speak with us about your employment situation, please reach out to us through the Web Contact Form by using the "Contact Us" button or by calling (515) 281-1460. We make every effort to provide a same-day response to all communications received during weekday business hours.  Initial telephone calls are always free.  If it looks like we can help, it'll be our pleasure to meet with you, learn more about your situation, and lend you a hand.  We handle as many of our cases as possible on a contingent fee basis, meaning that there's no fee unless we make a monetary recovery for you.

Erbe Law Firm, 2501 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312

(515) 281-1460

Erbe Law Firm has proudly served clients throughout Iowa since 2005 from our Des Moines law firm. We look forward to hearing from you to see whether we can do the same for you.

Harley Erbe

Harley C. Erbe