Immigration

I-9 Audits: Tips for Employers Read More

Intellectual Property

Patent Reform: Learn about the America Invents Act Read More

Employment & Labor Relations

Annual Labor and Employment Law Seminar — April 26, 2012 Read More

Start-Up Launchpad

24-hour access to online legal resources for startups Read More

Best Lawyers In America 2011

Davis Brown had 26 lawyers honored Read More

Health Law

Healthcare Compliance Toolkit Read More



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 her 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, not-for-profit, agriculture, and finance industries. 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, and data security compliance.

She also advises not-for-profit service organizations, including Lutheran Services in Iowa and Easter Seals of Iowa, on the unique issues they face, including 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 court.

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.

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.

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 with 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