Retaliation Claims Pose Threat
Iowa is known as an "Employment at Will" state. The mantra is that an employer may fire someone for "any reason" or "no reason at all" – as long as that reason is not discriminatory. However, there are exceptions to this rule. One of the major exceptions is when a termination violates the "public policy" of the State of Iowa. A violation of public policy often invokes a retaliation claim. You may need to worry about a retaliation claim under Iowa law if your reason for terminating the employee involves any of the following:
1) Filing a workers’ compensation claim;
2) Filing a wage/hour claim;
3) Filing an IOSHA complaint;
4) Garnishment of wages;
5) Refusing to submit to a polygraph, except under law enforcement circumstances;
6) Participating in or refusing to participate in a labor union;
7) National Guard Duty;
8) Jury duty;
9) Taking time off to vote or voting for a particular candidate;
10) Deliquent child support payments / assignment of income;
11) Participation in a court-ordered drinking drivers course;
12) "Whistle Blowing" by public employees;
13) Request for the employee’s personnel file;
14) Refusing to Commit an illegal act.
There are also federal laws which may give rise to retaliation claims.
It is important to keep in mind that a retaliation claim may be valid even if the original claim had no merit. It is important to establish a policy against retaliation and to faithfully follow it. If you have questions about whether you can terminate an employee please consult your attorney before doing so.