Iowa Court: Union Workers May Sue For Wrongful Discharge

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The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled for the first time that workers under union contract with the state may sue for wrongful discharge if they’re fired for retaliation or other improper reasons.

The decision came Friday in a lawsuit filed in 2015 by former Iowa Workforce Development judge Susan Ackerman. Her claims included that former IWD Director Teresa Wahlert and other agency leaders defamed her, caused her emotional distress and breached her contract.

The court’s ruling filed Friday overturns a judge’s dismissal of the wrongful discharge portion of her case and allows her lawsuit to go forward in district court.

The supreme court, in a separate case, also says former Workforce Development judge Joseph Walsh, who led the agency’s unemployment appeals bureau, can proceed with his whistleblower and wrongful discharge lawsuit filed in April 2014.

A third IWD judge, Marlon Mormann, had sued for age discrimination but the court upheld his lawsuit dismissal.

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