The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Under the FMLA regulations, if an employee is incapacitated, someone else can notify the employer, whose FMLA obligations are then triggered. But that doesn’t mean that a co-worker merely telling a supervisor that the employee is “sick” works as notification. Employers are entitled to better notice than that.

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If you place an older worker who has complained about age discrimination on a performance improvement plan  that is essentially impossible to complete, watch out! You’re setting yourself up to pay out huge punitive damages—even if the employee winds up winning just a modest retaliation verdict.

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Unions represent an ever-shrinking slice of U.S. employees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 11.3% of workers were unionized in 2012, down from 11.8% in 2011. In 1981, 20.1% of American workers belonged to a union. Several factors have contributed to the decline.

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No one wants to have to explain why an employee just lost her job. But passing the buck and coming up with inconsistent excuses are the worst possible approaches. Instead, make sure the information comes from one source—preferably HR—and stick with a defensible reason.

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Firing someone because you be­­lieve he has a disability violates the ADA under some circumstances, but not all. If the disabling condition is transitory and minor, you can terminate without violating the ADA.

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Some employees refuse to follow rules prohibiting off-the-clock work. Some—insisting they can’t complete their work any other way—may clock out and then return to work. That puts employers at risk for wage-and-hour lawsuits. You don’t have to put up with it.

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Employees who violate rules against doing personal business at work are engaging in misconduct. That can make them ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits.

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The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee who previously agreed to waive her right to file a class-action overtime lawsuit does indeed have to rely on individual arbitration of her claim.

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Before you decide to convert employees to independent contractors, remember that it isn’t the label that counts, but the actual work per­­formed. Calling someone an independent contractor doesn’t make him one.

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Participants in Ameriprise’s 401(k) plan are suing the investment firm, claiming it operated the retirement program for its own benefit, not its employees and retirees.

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