The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Employees who are fired for misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. But an unintentional mistake doesn’t block benefits.

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If your union contract has a “just cause” for termination clause, get the union’s sign-off on a covered employee’s last chance agreement.

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Q. An employee has been out on leave and has now run out of FMLA leave. It’s unclear when she will return. Can we terminate her employment?

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Q. We have 75 employees at our one facility. An employee recently took two months off for a serious operation. We did not classify this as FMLA leave, but now we think we should have. What can we do?

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As the workforce becomes more diverse, religious accommodation requests are becoming more common. In addressing such requests, employers should be mindful of the new in­­for­­mal guidance recently issued by the EEOC regarding religious accommodations involving dress or grooming.

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A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation has found that the Hibachi Buffet restaurant in Minneapolis owes 18 employees a total of $117,000 in unpaid wages.

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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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