Jo Ellen Whitney

“A brilliant mind and problem solver,”

-Chambers USA, Reference Feedback

Jo Ellen is adept at managing the everyday chaos employers and human resource managers face. She is known for her approachable demeanor and practical approach to employment law. She shares her knowledge regularly - Jo is a prolific speaker and writer - simultaneously educating and entertaining audiences on the grey areas of employment law. 

Her clients are employers, managers, physicians, hospital administrators, and HR professionals in the health, manufacturing, telecommunications, technology, agriculture, and finance industries as well as not-for-profit service organizations. She is described as “top notch” by clients she advises on a wide array of matters and issues relating to employment and labor law, health law, fair housing, privacy and data security compliance, and contract and policy issues relating to grant funding. 

Employment and Labor Law

Jo Ellen handles a variety of issues ranging from business planning and contracts to representation before administrative agencies such as the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the EEOC, Iowa Workforce Development, OSHA, and the Department of Labor, as well as state and federal courts. 

As a prior chair of the firm's Human Resources Committee, Jo Ellen brings practical experience to her advice for employers on business planning, discipline, and termination issues. She has extensive experience with contract development, employee handbooks, and internal policies and practices for employment issues and regulatory compliance, including the ADA/ADAAA, FLSA, HIPAA and FMLA. Jo Ellen 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.

For employers who have Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), Jo Ellen serves as designated counsel on a variety of matters such as wrongful termination, retaliation, discrimination, harassment, wage hour, and civil rights. 

Health Law

Jo Ellen 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 on medical staffing, credentialing and privileging matters, as well as consent and risk analysis. She 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 health care clients on matters including:

  • Drug diversion and misuse of prescription drugs 
  • HIPAA/HiTECH, privacy, security and record release and retention
  • E-data release, security, and retention
  • Medical research - 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
  • Licensure matters, including before the Iowa Board of Medicine
  • Business planning and policies regarding staffing, discipline, and terminations