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Iowa Drug Testing Statute Provides Exclusive Remedy For Violations; Separate Wrongful Discharge Claim Is Barred

Addressing a matter of first impression, the Iowa Supreme Court determined that “when a civil cause of action is provided by the legislature in the same statute that creates the public policy to be enforced, the civil cause of action is the exclusive remedy for violation of that statute.” Ferguson v. Exide Technologies, Inc., et al, Case No. 18-1600 (Iowa Dec. 13, 2019). Therefore, a plaintiff who brings a claim for a violation of the Iowa drug testing statute cannot also bring a wrongful discharge claim based on the same conduct.

Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Amendments Narrowing Bargaining Rights for Public Sector Unions

The Iowa Supreme Court released five eagerly awaited opinions upholding the 2017 amendments to the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA). The main case on which the four other companion cases relied was American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Iowa Counsel 61 v. State of Iowa, No. 17-1841 (May 17, 2019). Taken together, the cases upheld the amendments, which narrowed collective bargaining rights for certain public sector employee unions.

Iowa to Change Employer Alcohol Testing Requirement on July 1

Iowa’s governor recently signed legislation (H.F. 2383) amending Iowa’s already onerous drug testing law (Iowa Code section 730.5) relating to private employers. Iowa Code section 730.5 states that an employer’s written policy for alcohol testing must include a standard for breath alcohol concentration that is deemed to be a violation of the policy, and that standard must be no less than .04 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, or its equivalent. Under the new law, which will go into effect on July 1, 2018, that standard will be reduced to no less than .02 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, or its equivalent, allowing employers to take an even tougher stance against employees who might show up to work under the influence.

Iowa Amends Tough Drug Testing Law to Lower Standard for Positive Alcohol Tests

Beginning July 1, 2018, private employers in Iowa may take action based on an employee’s alcohol test result of .02 grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath. The lower standard was enacted under a 2018 amendment to the Iowa drug testing law (Iowa Code Section 730.5). Prior to the amendment, employers could not take action for alcohol test results below .04 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

Iowa Drug Testing Law Amended; Lawsuits on the Rise

Although Iowa’s drug testing statute was enacted more than 30 years ago, it is still considered one of the most difficult laws in the country for purposes of employer compliance.

Sexual Harassment Case Costs Iowa Taxpayers $2.2 Million

A former staffer for the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus in Iowa has been awarded $2.2 million in damages for retaliation that will be paid from Iowa’s already-floundering general fund. Kirsten Anderson was terminated from her position as communications director for the caucus in 2012. She alleged the termination was in retaliation for her complaints about sexual harassment and a hostile work environment and the jury took her side.
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