A registered nurse claims North Memorial Health Care in Robbinsdale, Minn., withdrew its employment offer after she requested a religious accommodation. The woman is a Seventh-day Adventist and had sought a schedule that would not force her to work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
If it stands, a recent federal court decision could provide some clarity for Minnesota employers.
Minnesota employers have to walk through a minefield in order to terminate someone. Consider, for example, what might happen if the newly discharged employee asks for a written explanation of her termination. Offer one that’s less than honest, and you may be violating Minnesota’s Section 181.933.
Q. An employee’s daughter has diabetes and the employee has intermittent leave to provide assistance and care for her. The employee is now using FMLA leave to attend her daughter’s field hockey games and practices, claiming she needs to be there in case of diabetic complications during athletic events. The health care certification that we received in connection with this FMLA leave request does refer to a need to provide care during “flare ups.” Do we have to continue to permit the mother to attend the games and practices as intermittent FMLA leave?
Working overtime can be an essential job function. If disabled employees can’t work overtime, you may not have to accommodate them.
Rest easy: You can talk about an employee’s pregnancy while also discussing discipline against her. As long as you make it clear that you are disciplining the employee because of issues that have nothing to do with her pending childbirth, mentioning pregnancy while discussing potential penalties won’t make you lose a discrimination suit.
Some workers who learn they’re about to be disciplined or even fired for poor behavior may try to use an alleged disability as an excuse. But if they never revealed before that they have a disability, it’s too late to try that tactic on the eve of being punushed.
If a marginal employee is having a hard time getting along with his boss, think about giving him a second chance with a new supervisor. It may help—and it won’t hurt if you still end up firing the employee.
Q. An employee was injured away from work. He is now demanding to return to work as an accommodation for his injuries, which he claims is a disability under both the ADA and Minnesota Human Rights Act. We do have a transitional work program, whereby we create work to aid workers injured on the job in returning to work. The work involves duties that we otherwise outsource, such as floor sweeping, etc. Our injured employee is not able to return to his prior position due to the physical nature of that job, and is now demanding that we provide him this sort of transitional work. Must we?
Q. We have an employee who is on final warning due to his poor attendance. The employee recently requested FMLA leave to care for his wife. While on FMLA leave, it was reported in the newspaper that the employee was arrested for drug possession. He was in jail for several days, including several workdays. The employee is now out of jail and wants to return to work. Can we treat the employee’s absences from work while in jail as occurrences under our attendance policy, or do we have to treat the time as FMLA leave, even though the employee could not have been caring for his wife the days in question since he was in jail?