Iowa law provides little protection from being fired from your job. Iowa is an at-will state, which means that an employer can terminate an employee even if it is for bad cause or no cause at all.
At-Will Employment in Iowa
However, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Although the at-will standard means that an employer is given great latitude to fire a worker, if the worker has a contract of employment or if the termination is for a reason prohibited by law or violates public policy, an employee may be protected.
Iowa Employment Contract Violations
Contractual protections typically include workers who are covered by a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement, which impose limitations on an employer’s right to terminate an employee without just cause. Individual employment contracts more typically offered to executives, some professionals, pro athletes, performing artists and the like, may also prevent an employer from terminating an employee at-will.
Workplace Discrimination Laws
There are many federal and Iowa laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, and disability. Employers are prohibited from discharging workers for specific reasons that include these protected characteristics, or in retaliation for their union activity, making a complaint, testifying in investigations and other actions protected by law.
Violations of Public Policy
Employees are also protected against terminations that violate public policy. If a discharge from employment is because a worker exercised a legal right, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim for a work injury or engaging in a civic duty such as jury duty, they may be protected under the law.
Public Employees and Wrongful Termination
Public employees enjoy many protections over the private sector. Civil service jobs often require good reason when an employee is fired. Most federal civilian workers are covered by federal civil service laws while most employees of the state of Iowa are covered by the state’s merit system. City workers, including police and firefighters, may be protected by local civil service commissions.
Contact an Experienced Des Moines Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Even though Iowa is an at-will state, the courts have restricted an employer’s discretion in important ways to protect employees form unlawful discrimination and/ or retaliation as well as upholding legal employment contracts. If you believe that you have been been wrongfully terminated from your job in violation of the law, public policy or an employment contract, contact Des Moines employment law attorney, Marc Humphrey, for help. Our experienced wrongful termination team has successfully represented Iowans who have been victims of employment discrimination, have suffered retaliation and harassment in the workplace or been wrongfully fired from their jobs. Call our offices today for assistance at 515-331-3510.