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Employment Case Summaries

Skilled Employment Law Attorneys

Serving Clients in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska

At the Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., we are aggressive advocates for employees and employers who are dealing with all types of employment law matters. Based in Sioux City, Iowa, our firm serves clients throughout Iowa, as well as in the neighboring states of South Dakota and Nebraska.

We believe providing information and resources to our clients is of the utmost importance. Some case summaries we have here on our website are organized into the categories below:

Independent contractor accepted new terms of at-will contract by continuing with performance. The independent contractor had an at-will contract with a dairy cooperative to haul milk to the co-op’s facilities. The co-op notified the hauler that they would be phasing out trip fees that had been paid in the past, amounting to $100 a trip. The hauler objected to the modification of his at-will contract with the cooperative, but he continued hauling milk to their facilities. The hauler submitted invoices which included the $100 trip fee, however the cooperative refused to pay the trip fees. The hauler filed suit against the cooperative, seeking payment for the unpaid trip fees, which amounted to over $120,000 plus interest. The Iowa Supreme Court found in favor of the cooperative. In support of this conclusion, they noted that the principle that unilateral changes to at-will contracts are allowed upon reasonable notice, applies to independent contractors, as well as employees. In the present case, the hauler’s continued performance, despite reasonable notice of the phasing out of trip fees, amounted to acceptance of a new at-will contract. See Johnson and Virgil Johnson Trucking v. Associated Milk Procedures, Inc., No. 15-0105 (Iowa, Oct. 14, 2016).

Employer could fire an employee because he was afraid he would try to have an affair with her in the future. The employer in this case worked closely with a female employee. Over the course of her career he complained that her clothing was too revealing and made similar complaints. They also began to text each other during off work hours. When his wife discovered the text messages she wanted the employer to fire the woman. The employer fired the employee and explained that he was afraid that she was a threat to his marriage and that he felt he might try to have an affair with her in the future. She sued on the basis of gender discrimination. A district court granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the employee. The employee appealed alleging that she would not have been fired if she had been male. The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the granting of the summary judgment. The Supreme Court reasoned that the firing was not motivated by gender. Even though she probably would not have been fired if she were male, the firing was motivated by the threat to the marriage and not because of her gender. Therefore, summary judgment was appropriate.

An employee must exhaust remedies under a collective bargaining agreement before bringing a claim in court. The employee and another employee applied for an internal transfer within the business. Both employees were told that they were not qualified and that the position would be advertised to outside candidates but they may be eligible if no external candidates were qualified. The other employee applied to the external advertisement but the employee bringing suit did not. There were no other qualified external applicants and the other employee was given the position. This suit was brought as a result of the other employee being given the position. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted because the remedies of the collective bargaining agreement had not been exhausted. The employee filed this appeal. On appeal the court held that the employee must exhaust the grievance procedure outlined in the collective bargaining agreement before bringing suit on issues that are covered by the agreement. "Transfers" are specifically covered by the agreement and therefore the employee was required to exhaust the grievance procedure before bringing suit. The employee also claims that the employer waived the exhaustion requirement by failing to respond to her inquiries within the time period specified in the agreement. The employees inquiries, emails, and letters were not sufficient to be considered a grievance because they did not comply with the requirements of the grievance procedure. Because the grievance procedure was not initiated the employer could not waive the exhaustion requirement. The motion for summary judgment was affirmed.

Contact an employment law lawyer at the Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., today to discuss your case and needs. Call 800-613-7989 ext. 213.

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Klass Law Firm, L.L.P.
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Sioux City, IA 51106

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