The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Faced with declining revenues and staff shortages that mean more overtime hours, managers may be tempted to adjust time records to reflect fewer hours worked. But this is a dangerous tactic.

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Here’s a tip that may save you from unnecessary litigation: When it comes to disciplining a disruptive worker, focus on the behavior. Don’t speculate on the reason the employee may be disruptive.

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When the EEOC issues a so-called “right to sue” letter, the recipient has just 90 days to file a federal lawsuit. But courts are increasingly reluctant to dismiss cases filed within a few days of the deadline.

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Do you have a time clock system that employees use to record the hours they work? Make sure it allows hourly employees to record the overtime they work. Otherwise, they may later argue that they worked overtime hours and your time-keeping system was designed to discourage them from tracking those extra hours and getting paid overtime.

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With great fanfare, Minnesota’s new Women’s Economic Secu­­rity Act was signed into law on Mother’s Day in May 2014. WESA is aimed at closing the gender gap by breaking down barriers to economic progress for women. It creates a number of new legal requirements and amends various existing laws.

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Q. Since pregnancy does not qualify as a disability under the ADA, our company denies all special accommodation requests granted by otherwise healthy employees who are pregnant. Does this policy make us vulnerable to a lawsuit?

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Q. Our company has a leave-of-absence policy that states that any employee on leave longer than 12 months will be terminated. Our company’s leadership insists on this policy out of what they call business necessity. Are we opening ourselves up to risk?

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Q. We frequently have employees turn in time sheets with unapproved overtime—time they spend checking emails and voice mails. Do we have to pay em­­­­ployees for this time even though we have a workplace policy that prohibits unapproved overtime work?

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Here’s a tricky situation that requires courage: An employee complains that a senior executive may be sexually harassing a subordinate. The best approach may be to contact your employer’s attorney for advice.

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A court has concluded that em­­ployees looking for promotions or transfers have to make reasonable efforts to apply for a job before they can sue. That’s true even if they were discouraged from applying—unless it was obvious that applying would be futile and therefore ­pointless.

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