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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

It may be a reasonable accommodation to grant additional time off after a disabled employee has used up her FMLA entitlement and other leave. But what if the disabled employee wants a gradual return to work, easing back in by working part time?

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Just because an employee is doing a lousy job doesn’t mean she isn’t also being sexually harassed. Ignoring her complaints and focusing strictly on her performance may backfire if you terminate her. A jury may decide that harassment affected her performance or that, even if you fired her for legitimate reasons, she deserves compensation for the har­­ass­­ment she endured.

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Sometimes, employees lose their tempers. That’s unfortunate and you certainly should discourage it. But a loud or tumultuous argument between a supervisor and a subordinate isn’t necessarily grounds for a harassment lawsuit.

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Cargill Meat Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc., has settled race and sex discrimination charges with the federal government. The DOL’s Office of Fed­­eral Contract Compliance Pro­­grams investigated the firm’s hiring practices at facilities in Spring­­dale, Ark., Fort Morgan, Colo., and Beards­­town, Ill., between 2005 and 2009.

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Employees can sometimes receive unemployment benefits even if they quit, but they must have good cause. Mere dissatisfaction doesn’t count.

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Minnesota workers injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and can’t be punished for asking for or receiving those benefits. Remind supervisors and ­managers that it’s their job to manage the work­­force despite injuries and that threatening or actually punishing workers who apply for benefits is illegal.

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Although most employers are sensitive to the need to protect their own company’s confidential information, they may not be as attuned as they should be to the other side of the coin. A recent trial experience provided an extraordinary lesson on the significant legal exposure an employer can face when hiring employees from a competitor.

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Employees with chronic conditions may need time off, but can’t always plan those absences in advance. And that may mean understaffed positions on short notice. That’s unfortunate, but it’s something a good manager must work around—and something HR should monitor.

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Many companies—including Adobe and Netflix—have abandoned annual reviews, focusing instead on continuous performance management. Could this process work for you?

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Before outsourcing, carefully lay the groundwork. Document the underlying financial and practical reasons, especially if the department is troubled and some employees have filed discrimination or harassment complaints.

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