The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Waconia-based Applied Vacuum Technologies (AVT) has settled a disability discrimination suit with the EEOC. A former employee had filed the complaint after the company terminated him.

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Minnesota has become the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage, following enactment of legislation that re­­quires employers to provide the same rights to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples in terms of health coverage and survivor benefits.

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The NAACP and the advocacy group Take Action Minnesota have accused retail giant Target of unfair hiring practices, alleging that the chain unnecessarily rejects job applicants based on their criminal records.

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Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA. Since then, a primary concern for employers has been how to effectively prepare for the employer mandate requiring most employers to provide health insurance benefits. Although the mandate takes effect in 2014, implementation of several requirements will depend on cir­­cumstances that unfold this year.

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After being locked out since Oct. 21, 2012, musicians with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are prepared to complete a shortened season with a smaller contingent. A tentative agreement ending the lockout cuts the orchestra from 34 members to 28 and lowers the guaranteed minimum salary to $60,000—19% less than the previous contract that expired last September.

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A bill requiring hospitals and other health care facilities to meet target nurse-to-patient ratios has made it out of a Minnesota House of Repre­­sentatives committee. The Standards of Care Act requires hospitals to meet staffing levels recommended by professional nursing specialty organizations.

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Under the ADA and the MHRA, disabled workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Deciding what’s reasonable requires an interactive process in which both employer and employee discuss options that allow the employee to perform essen­­tial job functions. The employer then can choose which accommodation it prefers.

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By now, you are probably familiar with the idea your FMLA obligations are triggered when employees provide enough information for you to reasonably understand that they might need FMLA leave. They don’t need to say any “magic words.” It’s the same with requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA.

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Sometimes, employees quit in a huff over a pay dispute and then try to collect unemployment compensation benefits. They may argue that a pay cut justified their resignation. But unless the reduction is substantial—usually greater than 20% of previous pay—the resignation wouldn’t be justified.

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Before you settle an FLSA claim for what you might consider “peanuts,” remember that any settlement will probably include court-authorized legal fees that you will have to pay to the employee’s lawyers. That’s because any success in collecting unpaid overtime or minimum wages also means the employee who wins that money is entitled to have his legal fees paid.

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