The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

To achieve compliance and prevent successful discrimination claims (which could involve class-action exposure), employers must be attuned to workplace issues around national origin, religion and race. For most employers, this means training management and HR personnel to carefully consider their policy-making and daily decisions that can affect such issues.

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Yes, all employees are supposed to be treated equally when they break the same rule. But when courts compare discipline, they don’t do so across the entire organization. They focus on one supervisor at a time. Company-wide variations are normal and not absolute proof of discrimination.

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Employees who take protected FMLA leave are supposed to return to the same or an equivalent position in terms of pay, duties and benefits. But what if the employee doesn’t want the same job for some reason? Must you create a new job for her? No.

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Gov. Mark Dayton has signed into law an expansion of the state’s 1987 whistle-blower act. The new Minne­­­­sota Whistleblower’s Act protects from retaliation both public- and private-sector employees who report misconduct.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has issued a ruling that ­clarifies what employees have to show in order to win a sexual harassment case under the MHRA. It concluded that employees who work in a sexually hostile work environment don’t have to lose pay or benefits to win a case. Nor is it a defense that the harasser was an equal opportunity harasser who targeted both men and women.

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When an employer conducts a background search on an applicant entirely in-house using only the employer’s staff, background check laws generally don’t apply. How­­ever, when an employer pays an outside entity to screen applicants, it must obey background check laws, including the FCRA and applicable state laws.

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When a Maplewood man went to an appointment following colon cancer surgery, his doctor told him his health insurance had lapsed. It turns out, an avoidable HR paperwork mix-up nearly left him destitute and could have threatened his health.

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Public employers in Minnesota have been able to give employment preference to veterans for years, but private employers that favor hiring vets have always run the risk of facing discrimination claims from other applicants who lack military experience. A new state law gives some limited protection to private employers with hiring policies that give preference to hiring veterans.

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A federal court has authorized a group of employees who claim they were misclassified as exempt outside sales employees to bring a collective action alleging unpaid wages.

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Here’s a tip that can help prevent successful termination lawsuits: Set up your system so that the same individual or individuals who make hiring decisions also make the final termination decisions. It will help you prevail in court if the fired employee tries to sue you for discrimination.

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