Hy-Vee Office Employees ‘Offered’ Retail Jobs Are Eligible For Unemployment Benefits

By Ty Rushing

April 28, 2022

Hy-Vee corporate workers who turn down an “offer” to switch to the retail end of the business will still be able to collect unemployment benefits, according to Iowa Code.

The West Des Moines-based grocer ran an ad designed to look like a news article in several major Midwest newspapers Wednesday to announce that 500 corporate workers were being asked to work in its stores.

Hy-Vee orchestrated a similar act in March when 121 office workers were laid-off, although the company says it offered them alternative employment, though several impacted workers previously disputed that.

This tactic also may help the company skirt state and federal Worker Adjustment and Retaining Notification Act (WARN) laws.

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Hy-Vee’s ad didn’t specify what would happen to the 500 employees who didn’t accept the offer. 

Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst’s office reached out to Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) after a media inquiry to confirm whether or not displayed Hy-Vee corporate workers would qualify for state unemployment benefits.

“The admin rules speak directly to this situation,” an IWD attorney wrote to Konfrst’s staff in an email. “An employee who loses work due to refusal to accept a drastic modification in type of work should be eligible for benefits.”

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The message also cited section 871—24.26(96) of the Iowa Code, which covers rules on “voluntary quit with good cause attributable to the employer and separations not considered to be voluntary quits.”

Konfrst expressed her disappointment with how one of Iowa’s largest employers has handled this situation.

“As an employee-owned company, Hy-Vee certainly isn’t treating its employees very well right now by telling them they need to go work retail jobs,” she said.


by Ty Rushing

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  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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