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Jo Ellen Whitney


Jo Ellen is a senior shareholder of the Davis Brown Law Firm. She is chair of the firm's Employment and Labor Relations Department and practices in the areas of employment and labor law, health law, privacy and fair housing.

Her clients describe her as “top notch” and appreciate her unique ability to manage the everyday chaos many employers and HR managers face. 


Employment and Labor Law

Jo handles a variety of issues ranging from business planning and contracts, representation before administrative agencies such as the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the EEOC and local Human Rights Commissions, Iowa Workforce Development, as well as state and federal court. 

As a prior chair of the firm's Human Resources Committee, Jo 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 Communications Alliance, Iowa Credit Unions, and the Iowa Health Care Association.

As part of her employment practice, Jo Ellen represents employers as a part of their employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) policies on a variety of matters such as wrongful termination, retaliation, discrimination/harassment, and civil rights.  


Health Law

Jo works extensively in the field of health care law, including privacy and confidentiality issues, such as HIPAA and GINA, for hospitals, clinics and small practices. She has worked with medical staffing, credentialing and privileging matters, as well as consent and risk analysis in the health care area. Jo also has practical experience in implementing HIPAA in her role as Davis Brown’s privacy officer for data security compliance.


Jo Ellen also works with clients health care clients on matters including:

  • HIPAA/HiTECH, privacy, security and record release and retention
  • E-data release security and retention
  • Medical research including NIH, FDA and privately funded research - compliance and ethics
  • Consent to medical care, procedures, issues.
  • Specialty records - HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, mental health and genetics
  • Business planning and policies regarding staffing, discipline, and terminations

Fair Housing Compliance 

Additionally, Jo works with clients on issues related to fair housing compliance in the construction, rental, and sale phases for housing, apartments and condominiums. Her work has encompassed both state and local commissions, including HUD, in the areas of construction compliance, special housing issues, long-term care, assisted living facilities, and manufactured housing, as well as more general fair housing issues. 


As part of her ongoing work involving civil rights commissions, Jo has served as a mediator, speaker, and case screener for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.


Representative Clients

Jo works with a variety of clients including local service providers, such as telephone companies and agricultural cooperatives, hospitals, clinics, physician practices, manufacturing facilities including West Liberty Foods, various credit unions, and technology companies. 


She has also worked regularly with the unique issues facing not-for-profit service organizations ranging from contract and policy issues for organizations to receive grants, such as Lutheran Services in Iowa and House of Mercy.