Jo Ellen Whitney
- Emerging Companies
- Employment Law and Labor Relations
- Health Law
- Insurance Defense
- Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
About Jo Ellen's Practice
Jo Ellen Whitney is a senior shareholder of the Davis Brown Law Firm. As the chair of the firm's Employment and Labor Relations Department, she has a general practice in, but not limited to, the areas of employment and labor law, health law, privacy, and fair housing.
In the area of employment and labor law, Jo handles a variety of issues ranging from business planning and contracts, and representation before administrative agencies such as the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and local Human Rights Commissions as well as state and federal court.
As a prior chair of the firm's Human Resources Committee, she brings practical experience to bear on business planning, discipline, and termination issues for employers. She has extensive experience with contract development, as well as employee manuals, handbooks, and internal policies and practices for employment issues and regulatory compliance, including the ADA/ADAAA, FLSA, HIPAA, and FMLA. She has developed sample policies for a number of professional groups and organizations including members of the Iowa Telecommunications Association and the Iowa Healthcare Association.
As part of her ongoing work involving civil rights commissions, Jo has previously served as a mediator, speaker, and current case screener for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC). In recognition of her work with the ICRC, she was awarded the Governor's Volunteer Award for "outstanding contributions of volunteer service to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission." Awards are granted to people or groups who volunteer their time with a city or state government agency, or an Iowa non-profit organization. Jo Ellen received the Governor's Volunteer Award in 2007 and 1997.
- Duke University, 1984
- Duke University School of Law, 1988
Major Publications & Speaking Engagements
- Editor, Iowa Employment Law Letter
- Quoted, "Proposed Rule Boosts Protection for Religious Organizations with Federal Contracts," HR Daily Advisor, August 19, 2019
- Author, "New Negligent Hiring Law Taking Effect in Iowa," HR Daily Advisor, June 28, 2019
- Quoted, "Comment Period Near End for Proposed OT Rule," HR Daily Advisor, May 16, 2019
- Author, "Religious bias at work: How you pray is not your employer's business," Iowa Employment Law Letter, September 2018, and Diversity Insight, January 16, 2019
- Author, "Everything I need to know about HR I learned from NCIS," Iowa Employment Law Letter, January 2019, and HR Daily Advisor, February 5, 2019
- Author, "Telecommuting GPS: mapping out the detours of working remotely," Iowa Employment Law Letter, November 2018, and HR Daily Advisor, January 2, 2019
- Co-Author, "Stormy days and muddy waters: wading into defamation claims," Iowa Employment Law Letter, June 2016, and HR Daily Advisor, July 17, 2018
- Co-Author, "4 challenging payroll quirks and questions for Iowa employers," Iowa Employment Law Letter, April 2018, and HR Daily Advisor, May 21, 2018
- Author, "Trashing customers online: It hit the fan and your employee threw it," Iowa Employment Law Letter, November 2017, and Technology for HR Blog, December 7, 2017
- Quoted, "Firestorm over Google memo putting 'diversity of thought' in spotlight," Diversity Insight, August 20, 2017
- Quoted, "Ebola ADA Suit is 'Nonsensical,' Massage Envy Franchisee Says," HR Daily Advisor, June 21, 2017
- Author, "Is the Potential to Contract Ebola a Disability?" HR Daily Advisor, May 18, 2017
- Author, "The HR diet: how to change things one bite at a time," Iowa Employment Law Letter, January 2016, and HR Hero Line, February 1, 2017
- Author, "How do we explain need to change FLSA overtime exemption?" Iowa Employment Law Letter, August 2016, and HR Hero Line, November 9, 2016
- Author, "Privacy vs. practicality: when expectations collide," Iowa Employment Law Letter, October 2016, and HR Hero Line, September 16, 2016
- Quoted, "Employers can learn lessons from DOL's FLSA woes," HR Hero Line, September 7, 2016
- Author, "Applicant's obesity claims against company carry no weight," Iowa Employment Law Letter, May 2016, and HR.BLR.com, June 6, 2016
- Author, "What do you do now? The boss is the problem!" Iowa Employment Law Letter, February 2016, and HR Hero Line, April 27, 2016
- Quoted, "Know what to do when a workplace injury prompts an OSHA investigation," HR Hero Line, February 12, 2016
- Author, "Workplace safety in an age of viral panic," Iowa Employment Law Letter, June 2015, and HR Hero Line, January 8, 2016
- Quoted, "What to say when CEO says don't bother creating an employee handbook," HR Hero Line, December 11, 2015
- Author, "Workplace surveillance in a world where everyone's watching," Iowa Employment Law Letter, September 2015, and Technology for HR Blog, November 4, 2015
- Quoted, "Late time cards a headache but no reason to withhold pay," HR Hero Line, October 14, 2015
- Quoted, "Risky business to muzzle employee claiming harassment," HR Hero Line, October 2, 2015
- Quoted, "Time for federal contractors to get ready for new pay transparency rule," Human Resources News, September 10, 2015
- Author, "Cyber boogeyman--internal or external threat?" Iowa Employment Law Letter, August 2015, and Technology for HR Blog, September 2, 2015
- Quoted, "Employer can--and should--investigate off-duty dispute between employees," HR Hero Line, August 28, 2015
- Quoted, "Are for-smokers-only breaks unfair? Maybe, but usually not illegal," HR Hero Line, July 31, 2015
- Quoted, "Stay legal when tackling exempt workers' tardiness, poor attendance," HR Hero Line, July 8, 2015
- Quoted, "FMLA confusion: Employers grapple with forced leave, pay for reduced schedule," HR Hero Line, May 29, 2015
The author of multiple editions of the Iowa Guide to Medical Records, Jo speaks consistently on HIPAA, medical records privacy, physician issues, and consent matters relating to the provision of medical care. She is a regular speaker at the Iowa Health Care Association, Iowa Health Information Management Association, Iowa Medical Society, and other groups dealing with issues relating to long term care, the provision of medical services, medical practitioners, and privacy.
Jo provides seminars and lectures regularly for both individual employer training sessions and speaks at larger trade associations and educational groups including the National Telephone Cooperative Association and the Society for Human Resource Management. She is also a regular contributor to various professional and trade magazines, newsletters, and legal bulletins in the areas of employment law, privacy, and health law.
- AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell
- Best Lawyers' 2013 "Des Moines Health Care Law Lawyer of the Year."
- The Best Lawyers in America, Health Care Law
- Great Plains Super Lawyers, Employment & Labor
- 2014 Super Lawyers Business Edition, Employment & Labor
Admitted to Practice