I am concerned about legal claims from employees or their family members who may allege that the employee contracted COVID-19 at the workplace and then spread it to family members. Does an employer have the right to require employees to waive such claims as a condition of returning to work?
Patrick Smith represents public and private sector employers in a broad spectrum of employment and labor matters, both inside and outside the courtroom.
For 25 years, Patrick has been trying and litigating cases before juries, judges, administrative agencies and arbitrators. He has defended clients sued for all manner of employment related claims, including discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, FMLA, FLSA/wage and hour violations, defamation and employment torts. Patrick represents employers in the drafting, negotiation and enforcement of non-compete and trade secret agreements. He defends public sector clients (such as school districts, cities, counties and municipal utilities) in civil rights, due process, whistleblower and open records/open meetings disputes. In the traditional labor law arena, Patrick represents employers in grievance arbitrations, defends unfair labor practices charges before the National Labor Relations Board, advises on union avoidance, and handles collective bargaining negotiations.
Although a frequent litigator, one of Patrick’s goals is to help clients avoid litigation. To that end, his practice includes consulting with employers on legal compliance, HR audits, drafting employment policies and handbooks, management training and internal investigations. He is a frequent presenter and publisher on a wide range of employment law topics, including serving as the publisher of the Iowa Employment Law Blog.
Sample of Reported Cases
- Hutchison v. Shull, 878 N.W.2d 221 (Iowa 2016); Suit alleging Iowa Open Meetings Act violation, Iowa Code Chapter 21
- Severe v. O’Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc., 92 F.Supp. 3d 892 (N.D. Iowa 2015); Age discrimination under ADEA and Iowa Civil Rights Act
- Preston v. City of Pleasant Hill, 642 F.3d 646 (8th Cir. 2011), Alleged due process violations relating to termination of firefighter.
- Tusing v. Des Moines Independent Comm. Sch. Dist., 639 F.3d 507 (8th Cir. 2011); Failure to hire based upon age and disability.
- Smith v. Crestion Municipal Utilities, No. 10-0181, 2010 WL 4792159 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 24, 2010); Disability discrimination, FMLA, and wrongful termination.
- Dickhaut v. Madison County, 707 F.Supp. 2d 883 (S.D. Iowa 2009); Claim for unpaid overtime under FLSA
- Downey v. City of Carlisle, 353 Fed. Appx. 81 (8th Cir. 2009); Sex discrimination, retaliation, blacklisting, and intentional interference with contract relating to police officer’s employment and separation of employment.
- Merfeld v. Warren County, 597 F.Supp. 2d 942 (S.D. Iowa 2009); Sex and pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and constructive discharge.
- S.O. v. Carlisle School Dist., No. 07-2096, 2009 WL 605994 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 11, 2009); Application of Iowa municipal tort claims act in lawsuit against school district.
Other Representative Experience
- Represented Iowa’s largest school district in race discrimination class action arising out of the use of criminal background checks.
- Represented Iowa’s largest school district in invasion of privacy lawsuit arising out of disclosure to media of administrator’s e-mails on district’s computer system.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of County Conference Board in former County assessor’s suit alleging unlawful removal from office.
- Advised debtor-in-possession in collective bargaining negotiations and labor law compliance in connection with bankruptcy sale of substantially all the company’s assets
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of trucking company client in EEOC lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
- Obtained defense verdict on behalf of public school district in former employee’s whistleblower and wrongful termination lawsuit.
- Represented County Sheriff in trial and re-trial of sexual harassment and retaliation claims, resulting in two hung juries.
- Obtained defense verdict on behalf of municipality in lawsuit of former employee alleging wrongful termination and breach of contract.
- Represented contractor in resisting union organizing campaign, including the defense of multiple unfair labor practice charges, and ancillary litigation against union for defamation.
Articles & Presentations
April 13, 2020
Does a loan under the CARES Act loan program limit an employer’s right to oppose a union?
April 1, 2020
What is the process for obtaining the tax credit for COVID-19 related leave paid under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?
October 1, 2019
The DOL’s new overtime rule is likely to survive the legal challenges that stopped the 2016 rule from going into effect. In the meantime, what should employers do to prepare for the rule’s effective date?
PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS
- Presenter, “Strategies for More Effective Discipline Documentation,” Iowa Employment Conference, April 9, 2020
- Presenter, “Strategies for More Effective Discipline Documentation,” Fredrikson & Byron’s Employment Law Seminar, Des Moines, IA, October 4, 2019
- Co-presenter, “Investigating Complaints in Today’s Workplace,” Fredrikson & Byron Event, May 23, 2019
- Featured in, “5OYS: How is medical marijuana handled in the workplace?” We Are Iowa Local 5, April 4, 2019
- Speaker, “Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: What are the Legal Risks?” Iowa Employment Conference, April 2019
- Co-author, “Employer Diversity Initiatives: What Are the Legal Risks?” For The Defense, Vol. 60, No. 1, 2018
- Author, “Pushing the Boundaries of Sex Discrimination Under Title VII: Does Discrimination ‘Because of Sex’ Cover Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation,” For The Defense, Vol. 59, No. 1 2017
- Presenter, “The Basics of Employment Practices Liability,” 2018 Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities Risk Management Workshops, October 9 and 24, 2018
- Presenter, “Sexual Harassment and the First Amendment,” Iowa State Bar Association Corporate Counsel Seminar, October 19, 2018
- Presenter, “Fair Labor Standards Act Essentials,” and “Solutions for Sensitive Workplace Issues,” NBI Human Resources Law Bootcamp, September 20, 2018
- Presenter, “Emotional Distress Damages in Employment Cases,” Iowa State Bar Association Annual Meeting, June 19, 2018
- Presenter, “Trends in Workplace Harassment,” Iowa Employment Conference Spring Seminar, April 12, 2018
- Presenter, “Recent Developments in State and Federal Employment Law,” National Business Institute’s Advanced Employment Law Seminar, July 17, 2017
- Presenter, “Hot Topics in Employment Practices Liability,” ENCAMPUS webinar, July 11, 2016
Honors & Education
- The University of Iowa College of Law, J.D., 1993, with high distinction
- Drake University, B.A., 1989, magna cum laude
- Minnesota, 2019
- Iowa, 1993
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa, 1994
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa, 1994
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, 2010
- Best Lawyers’ “Lawyer of the Year” in Des Moines Litigation – Labor and Employment, 2020
- The Best Lawyers in America, Labor and Employment-Litigation
- Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated
- Note and Comment Editor, Journal of Corporation Law, University of Iowa College of Law, 1992-1993
- American Bar Association
- Defense Research Institute, Employment and Labor Law Committee
- Litigation Counsel of America, Charter Fellow
- Iowa Defense Counsel Association
- Iowa State Bar Association
- Polk County Bar Association