On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a 57-page opinion in Irving v. Employment Appeal Board. Sondra Irving appealed a judgment from the district court that affirmed the denial of her unemployment benefits after she was terminated from her job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Irving was absent from work while she was incarcerated on criminal charges unrelated to her job (which were ultimately dismissed).
Most people we meet with in our practice have, unfortunately, been discharged from their job. Those who are “lucky” have been offered some sort of severance from their former employer. The rest have been let go with nothing more than a final paycheck and some unused PTO. This frequently leads to the question, is severance pay required under Iowa law? Regrettably, the answer is no.
Earlier this week, California’s governor signed an equal pay bill into law that some commentators are calling the toughest equal pay law in the country. California’s prior equal pay law made it unlawful for an employer to pay an employee less than the wages paid to the opposite sex, but required the differently paid employees to work “in the same establishment” and perform “equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility” under similar working conditions. While the equal pay law applies to both men and women, laws of this kind are most frequently invoked by women paid less than their male counterparts.
A recent trend in big-name companies such as Facebook, Google, and Yahoo is to offer unlimited leave to employees. Netflix has been making headlines with its latest announcement that employees will be allowed to take unlimited maternity and paternity leave in the first year after their child’s birth or adoption.
Just last week, social media giant Twitter made headlines when one of its teams decided to hold a frat-themed party in the office, paid for by the company. The party was complete with kegs of beer, red plastic cups, beer pong, and a sign written in Greek-themed font that read “Twitter frat house.” While the party itself should have been newsworthy on its own, it became even more so given that in March of this year a former employee sued Twitter for sex discrimination, claiming the company made it difficult for women to obtain promotions and engaged in tactics designed keep women out of higher ranking positions.
A recent CNN Money article highlighted an innovative program IBM plans to launch in September 2015 designed to help working mothers ship breast milk home while they are traveling for business. The idea arose after a focus group for IBM’s working mothers said nursing moms worry about this issue while they’re on business trips. IBM is hoping to use a smartphone app so traveling mothers can have temperature-controlled packaging delivered to their hotel. The company will pay for all expenses associated with the program and says they are motivated by their “drive to help our working moms.”
Earlier this month, a Florida judge denied an attorney’s request to take short breaks every three hours to pump breast milk during a trial. As will come to no surprise to any mother with experience breastfeeding, the attorney requested the breaks both to avoid physical pain and to provide milk for her baby.