The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Q. We have a male employee in our accounting department. He recently told us that he plans to start presenting himself as female and is thinking of undergoing surgery to transform to a female. We think we will have employees who are really uncomfortable with this situation, so we are wondering if we can terminate our accounting employee or if this might get us into trouble?

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Here’s a reminder that you should not ignore complaints about workplace harassment—or promise to take action but then fail to follow through. Not only may this mean a discrimination or harassment lawsuit, but the employee could quit and qualify for unemployment compensation, too.

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Courts don’t like it when insurers try to use technicalities to limit benefits.

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When the EEOC gets wind of alleged discrimination, it is free to investigate that practice and sue the employer—all without naming an actual victim.

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With few exceptions, hourly employees are entitled to pay for all time worked. Paid time can include the time it takes to put on specialized equipment and clothing and walk to a workstation. If you rely on an inaccurate formula to calculate that time, a jury may correct your mistake for all similarly situated employees—and a judge may double the amount owed for unpaid time.

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Swedish ready-to-assemble furniture maker IKEA will soon give a pay raise averaging $1.59 per hour to its lowest-paid U.S. employees. The move, affecting about half the company’s workforce of 11,000, will raise IKEA’s average minimum wage to $10.76.

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Some employees mistakenly believe that if they can just get FMLA leave approved, their employer can’t discharge them. Fortunately, that’s not true.

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Minnesota employees who believe they were punished for refusing to engage in illegal activities can sue under two distinct but related laws. First, they may have a claim under Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act. Second, they can sue under the state common law for wrongful discharge. Each law has a different standard.

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The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would require the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to collect pay data from federal contractors.

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Shoreview, Minn.-based Cummins Power Generation faces a suit from the EEOC after it fired an employee who had missed work for refusing to provide medical information in conjunction with a fitness-for-duty examination. According to the suit, the company sought medical information that wasn’t related to the reason for the employee’s absence.

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