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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

In a case that shows courts are losing patience with employers that hire undocumented ­workers and then flout wage-and-hour laws, a federal court has zapped an em­­ployer almost $285,000 in unpaid wages and penalties, and another $150,000 to pay the former em­­ployees’ legal fees.

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The Senate on Nov. 7 voted 64 to 32 to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of actual or perceived sexual ­orientation or gender identity.

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Employers have long relied on the truck weight classification—not the actual weight the truck is carrying—to determine whether a driver received overtime. That was recently challenged in a class-action lawsuit.

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The state’s troubled mental health system is reeling from high-level departures and revelations that psychiatrists were investigating one another without the knowledge of the agency’s chief executive.

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The Minnesota Department of Human Rights website has posted a list of frequently asked questions to help employers understand their obligations now that same-sex marriage has been legal in Minnesota since August.

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Some employers worry that hiring a disabled employee increases the chances they will be sued for disability discrimination. Don’t worry needlessly. The fact that you knew the employee was disabled actually helps later if he sues for discrimination.

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The NLRB and EEOC are actively enforcing the position that a blanket policy requiring confidentiality during investigations violates federal labor and employment law. That means employers must proceed carefully and thoughtfully when making confidentiality requests during investigations.

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Employers don’t have to put up with angry and abusive em­­ployees who try to make life miserable for others. That’s true even if the employee is disabled and has taken FMLA and other leave to deal with mental problems or medical conditions that may be contributing to poor behavior.

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It’s natural to feel betrayed and up­set if you have an open-shop workplace and find out some employees have invited outsiders to help organize a union. But if you handle the news badly, you may end up in the cross hairs of the NLRB before a single union vote is cast.

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Amendments to Minnesota’s Par­­ent­­ing Leave Act took effect Aug. 1, expanding the definition of “covered family members” from just children. Now the definition includes not only minor children and those attending school (up to age 20), but also the employee’s own spouse, siblings, adult children, parents, grandparents and step-parents.

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