The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Q. One of our work crews needs to drive to a single work site during the day. One employee drives a truck and trailer with tools and equipment from our main facility. We would like to allow other employees to save gas by riding in the company’s truck. Do we need to pay employees for this commute time?

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In a long-anticipated move, President Obama on July 21 amended Executive Order 11246 to prohibit discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The DOL has until late October to develop regulations implementing the order.

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Here’s a warning to pass on to everyone involved in the hiring process: If the most qualified applicant for an open position happens to be a former employee who used FMLA leave in the past, you can’t use that leave as an excuse not to rehire him. That’s retaliation under the FMLA.

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Sometimes, poor appearances lead to lawsuits. That can certainly be the case when a reduction in force (RIF) seems to disproportionately affect a protected class of workers.

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Under the ADA and state discrimination law, pregnant women may be entitled to accommodations at work. For example, if a pregnancy involves medical complications, an employee may be entitled to a reduced schedule, shift changes or temporary assignments to accommodate lifting restrictions. However, requests for changes that are only tangentially related to a pregnancy don’t have to be honored.

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Former Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe has decided to keep talking to team officials rather than file a $10 million lawsuit.

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Sometimes, employees can only imagine that discrimination or retaliation is to blame for their sudden unemployment. If you had a good reason to terminate such an employee, don’t worry. The circumstances immediately preceding the discharge decision are what matter.

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Minnesota employers will have some new rules to follow after the state Legislature passed a bill aimed at re­­duc­­ing the gender pay gap and providing more protections to female employees.

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Employers can’t fire an employee who is about to reach the thres­­hold for FMLA eligibility if the em­­­­­­ployee has other accrued leave available to bridge her to FMLA eligibility.

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The Goodhue County Board has dismissed sexual harassment complaints against three county employees, finding the charges unsubstantiated. A female employee of the county Veterans Services Office complained that her new boss created a “hostile work environment” for her and that county officials “retaliated” against her after she filed her complaint.

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