What Does “At-Will” Employment in Iowa Mean?

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Posted by Laura Schultes

You may have heard that Iowa is an “at-will” employment state. But what does “at-will” mean, and how does it affect your rights as an Iowa employee?

Who is an “At-Will” Employee in Iowa?

Unless you have a contract specifying specific terms and length of employment or you benefit from a collective bargaining agreement, you are most likely an “at-will” employee.  “At-will” employment generally means that you or your Iowa employer can end the employment relationship “at-will” – at any time and for any reason or no reason at all. 

That may seem unfair or like your employer holds all the cards and power in the working relationship. Being an “at-will” employee does not mean you are without rights, however. While courts in Iowa give employers a lot of discretion in making employment-related decisions, the law does draw some boundaries.

What Discrimination are Iowa “At-Will” Employees Protected Against?

For example, both Iowa and federal laws make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against you in making an adverse employment decision based on your membership in a protected class.

This includes discrimination on the basis of:

·   Age

·   Race

·   National origin

·   Sex

·   Gender identity

·   Sexual orientation

·   Religion; or

·   Disability

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against in the workplace because of your membership in a protected class, you may be able to take legal action.

Other Ways Iowa “At-Will” Employees are Protected

In addition to laws prohibiting protected class discrimination in the workplace, you also have job protection rights if you pursue or receive benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Iowa law also provides protections for those employees who participate in an activity that is clearly protected by a public policy of the state of Iowa. This includes, for example:

·   Seeking workers’ compensation benefits;

·   Reporting or refusing to participate in illegal activity;

·   Fulfilling mandatory reporting obligations such as for a child or dependent adult abuse;

·   Reporting significant workplace safety issues to OSHA;

·   Other similar activities

If you work for a public entity, you may also have additional workplace protections through Iowa’s whistleblower statute if you have reported unlawful activity, gross abuse of funds, abuse of authority, or similar activity.

If you are an at-will employee but believe that your employer is engaging in these types of illegal activities, an experienced Iowa employment law attorney can help you figure out if you have the legal basis for a claim.

How an Iowa Employment Law Attorney Can Help

An attorney can also discuss with you the kinds of evidence you may need to prove your claim. Very few employers who engage in illegal employment practices ever admit the true reason for doing so and instead will cover their actions by claiming the employee had poor work performance or attendance issues.

An experienced Iowa employment law attorney can develop circumstantial evidence in your case to counter these common employer claims.

Even “at-will” employees still have rights in the workplace. RSH Legal offers free, no-obligation case evaluations to Iowans whose employers have engaged in illegal employment practices. 

To schedule yours, call 1-800-433-0283 today.

Looking for Iowa Legal Help?

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For a free, no-obligation case evaluation, call us at (319) 409-6575
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