Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Woods v. Charles Gabus Ford, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2020

LUCAS WOODS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CHARLES GABUS FORD, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K. Vaudt, Judge.

         Lucas Woods appeals the district court's order dismissing his petition asserting his employment was wrongfully terminated because his former employer violated Iowa's private sector employee drug-and-alcohol-testing statute, Iowa Code section 730.5 (2017). AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

          Harley C. Erbe of Erbe Law Firm, Des Moines, for appellant.

          James R. Hinchliff and Steven H. Shindler of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellee.

          Heard by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Charles Gabus Ford, Inc. (Gabus Ford) fired Lucas Woods after he failed an employee drug test. Woods filed a petition at law asserting he was wrongfully terminated because Gabus Ford violated Iowa Code section 730.5 (2017)-Iowa's private sector employee drug-and-alcohol-testing statute. After a bench trial, the district court dismissed Woods's petition.

         Woods appeals, challenging the district court's ruling in three respects. He asserts Gabus Ford violated section 730.5 because it did not: (1) send its certified mailing of the post-test notice return receipt requested as required in subsection (7)(j)(1); (2) establish it complied with the supervisory personnel training described in subsection (9)(h); and (3) include in its notice to Woods the cost of a confirmatory drug test as required in subsection (7)(j)(1). Upon our review of the record, we find no reversible error in Woods's first two claims. But we agree Gabus Ford's failure to include the cost of the confirmatory drug test in its post-test notice to Woods violated the statute. So we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Standard of Review.

         The parties agree our review is for correction of errors at law. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; Sims v. NCI Holding Corp., 759 N.W.2d 333, 337 (Iowa 2009). We will affirm the district court's findings of fact if they are supported by substantial evidence. Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(a). "Evidence is substantial if a reasonable mind would accept the evidence as adequate to reach the same findings." Sims, 759 N.W.2d at 337.

         II. Relevant Law.

         Iowa's private sector employee drug-and-alcohol-testing statute, section 730.5, was enacted "in response to a widespread belief that employers have the right to expect a drug-free work place and should be able to require employees to take steps to insure it." Anderson v. Warren Distrib. Co., 469 N.W.2d 687, 689 (Iowa 1991). The statute allows private sector employers to take disciplinary action against employees who test positive or refuse to test, including termination of their employment. Iowa Code § 730.5(10)(a)(3).

Although the legislature now allows random workplace drug testing, it does so under severely circumscribed conditions designed to ensure accurate testing and to protect employees from unfair and unwarranted discipline. The importance of these protections, including the procedural safeguards contained in section 730.5(7), is highlighted by the statutory provision making an employer "who violates this section . . . liable to an aggrieved employee . . . for affirmative relief including reinstatement . . . or any other equitable relief as the court deems appropriate." Iowa Code § 730.5(15). Although an employer is entitled to have a drug free workplace, it would be contrary to the spirit of Iowa's drug testing law if we were to allow employers to ignore the protections afforded by this statute, yet gain the advantage of using a test that did not comport with the law to support a denial of unemployment compensation.

Harrison v. Emp't Appeal Bd., 659 N.W.2d 581, 588 (Iowa 2003).[1] An employer's failure to comply with those detailed statutory protections in section 730.5 "create[s] a cause of action in favor of one who has been injured by [the employer's] failure." McVey v. Nat'l Org. Serv., Inc., 719 N.W.2d 801, 803 (Iowa 2006). As a result, a private employee can be discharged from employment "based on an employee drug-testing program only if ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.