The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Q. We have a workforce that largely works remotely, some hundreds of miles from our corporate office. For a variety of reasons, we will be reclassifying a number of these individuals from independent contractor status to employees. Given that we will need I-9s for the employees, do we need to personally see the required identification documents, or can the employees send us facsimiles/scans, etc.? If we need to see the forms personally, what is the best way to do that?

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Here’s a tip that can help you streamline the hiring process if you reasonably believe you will have a large number of applicants. Instead of listing preferred qualifications, include a longer list of required ones. That way, you should be able to whittle down the applicant list to those candidates closest to your ideal candidates.

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The University of Minnesota at Duluth is still reeling from discrimination charges after it failed to renew hockey coach Shannon Miller’s contract. Miller and three of her coaches, all of whom are openly gay, were terminated.

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For a time, it seemed as if employers were losing every class-action lawsuit filed by hungry lawyers on behalf of one or two named employees. It almost became a legal cottage industry. But now courts are losing patience with some of these lawsuits—especially when the attorneys get sloppy.

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When announcing a termination, make sure no one says anything that’s potentially defamatory. Keep the announcement professional and don’t make gratuitous comments, no matter the reason. Tell only those who need to know why the firing happened.

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Employees who no longer work because they lose access to child care are sometimes eligible for unemployment compensation. But they must first seek help in the form of a reasonable accommodation from their employer and be turned down. Even so, the worker still has to look for “suitable employment” to retain the benefits. He or she can’t reject every job offer based on inconvenient day-care scheduling.

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A black teacher is suing for race discrimination after she was fired from her job at Park Center High School in Osseo, Minn.—after she complained about race discrimination.

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The Target retail chain has agreed to stop using three pre-employment assessments that the EEOC claimed were discriminatory.

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On Labor Day, President Obama signed the latest in a string of executive orders applicable to employers that contract with the federal government. Executive Order 13706 will permit certain employees working on federal contracts to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. According to a White House fact sheet, the new paid leave mandate will affect approximately 300,000 workers … and imposes substantial new obligations on many employers.

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It is critical to prevent sexual harassment—especially when a supervisor is involved—instead of relying on your post-harassment policy to block lawsuits. The University of Minnesota just learned that the hard way.

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