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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

On May 29, Gov. Mark Dayton signed Minnesota’s new medical mari­­juana bill into law. Unlike similar laws in other states, this law specifically amends a state law—the Minne­­sota Con­­trolled Substance Act—to carve out exemptions for those permitted to use medical marijuana.

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After an employee has been fired, he or she often looks for a reason to sue. Something as innocuous as having used FMLA leave may then become the basis for a lawsuit as the former employee looks for any reason to get into court and perhaps negotiate a quick settlement.

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Sometimes, it makes sense for a business to reduce costs. One way may be to cut personnel, especially employees who are highly compensated and whose work may be redundant. A danger, of course, is that the most highly paid may be older workers, and terminating them may prompt an age discrimination lawsuit.

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Employers that have call-in procedures for absences can require employees use them when requesting FMLA leave or updating their status. Simply having a doctor fax in medical excuses isn’t enough.

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Q. We recently notified employees that we will be cutting pay due to difficult economic times. Then we received an anonymous letter expressing concerns about this decision. It suggested alternatives to pay cuts, such as eliminating our employer 401(k) match. We determined that the letter was written by one employee and edited by another. Can we terminate them?

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There are personal, business and legal reasons why a boss friending an employee can lead to trouble.

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Minnetonka, MN-based G&K Services has settled sex discrimination charges leveled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

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Q. We are a retail company. Our public image and our reputation for being a patriotic corporate citizen are both very important to us. We tend to hire a predominately young workforce and individuals with trendy, but “clean cut” and energetic appearances. I also don’t want to be forced to hire people with head coverings or facial hair, which we don’t allow. Can the government force us to do that?

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Employees have to abide by reasonable rules whether they like them or not. Insubordination remains a reason to deny unemployment compensation to terminated workers.

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For the first time in a decade, the NLRB is operating at full strength with five members and a confirmed General Counsel. The new board has a union-side majority and appears poised to expedite union organizing and support other collective activity across an increasingly broad spectrum of unionized and nonunionized workplaces.

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