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Iowa Labor & Employment

Iowa’s laws governing contracts between an employer and employees. Labor unions and collective bargaining allows for negotiations to reach agreements regulating working conditions.

Iowa is an “at-will employment” state, meaning you or your employer can terminate your employment relationship at any time and for any reason. This means you have no expectation of continued employment. However, your employer cannot unlawfully end your employment; you have several statutorily protected exceptions to at-will employment, including whistleblower statutes, Civil Right acts, Wage Payment Collection Act, OSHA, etc. There are also public policy exceptions to at-will employment, including mandatory reporting, unemployment, workers’ compensation, and wage disputes.

Generally, your employment contract controls your employment relationship with your employer. Under certain conditions, your employee manual may also be part of your employment contract.

Collective bargaining is a process through which a union aims to regulate working conditions for employees. Certain topics are required to be negotiated upon if either employers or employees insist upon them. Depending on your employer, your union may be public or private. It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you or harass you based on your involvement in your union. If you have a problem in the workplace, your union will have a grievance process for you to utilize. A union representative guides you through the process and provides representation for you in arbitration, if it becomes necessary.
If you relied on representations your employer made to you, and the employer changed their position, resulting in damage to you, you may be entitled to recover for your losses.
Covenants not to compete are allowed in Iowa, but they must be necessary for the protection of the employer’s business, not be unreasonably prejudicial to the employee’s rights and not be prejudicial to the public interest in order for them to be enforceable.
A severance agreement specifies the terms of your separation with your employer. Employers are not required to give severance agreements. If they do offer severance agreements, it must entitle you to payment you are not already entitled to receive. An agreement can insulate your employer against future claims you may have against them in exchange for the payment they give you. However, even if you sign a severance agreement, there are still types of claims you can bring against your employer, such as unemployment, workers’ compensation and civil rights claims.