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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

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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The EEOC alleges Chanhassen, MN-based PMT Corp. discriminated against older and female applicants for company sales positions. In a law­­suit filed in federal court, the EEOC claims the company’s president and CEO specifically instructed the HR department not to hire women and people who graduated from college more than 10 years ago for sales positions.

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Interstate Hotels and Resorts, the Virginia-based firm that managed Rochester’s Kahler Grand Hotel, has settled age discrimination charges that four former employees brought against the company. Interstate began managing the hotel, which serves the Mayo Clinic, in January 2013.

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Employees can sometimes quit and sue for constructive discharge if their employer made work life intolerable. That doesn’t mean an employee can quit anytime she faces a difficult situation. She has to let her employer try to resolve the problem first.

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Most employers think that if they just tell employees not to work more hours than their regular schedules call for, that’s the end of it. They put together a policy prohibiting off-the-clock work and figure, “Hey, problem solved.” But that may not be the case.

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Managers and supervisors are often classified as exempt from overtime under the FLSA’s executive exemption. It requires that the employee have the authority to hire and fire or make hiring and firing recommendations that carry particular weight. Some employers believe they can meet this requirement by asking for recommendations or insight into potential hires. That’s not enough.

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A messy termination doesn’t have to mean losing a subsequent lawsuit. Just be proactive, figure out what happened and document the underlying discharge reasons. They’re probably in plain sight, despite the drama.

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Q. One of our employees came in two hours late today, without an advance call. When he got here, he told his supervisor that he needed “school leave” for the morning. Can we discipline him for being late?

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Former Pine Island Administrator Abraham Algadi has filed a complaint with the state Department of Human Rights, arguing that the town created a hostile work environment for him in the months leading up to his termination. Algadi alleges he suffered discrimination because of his Jordanian heritage.

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Q. We have a bunch of employees who telework. One manager wants to follow the approach Yahoo took last year and eliminate teleworking. He believes that employees are not actually working and that their inability to see the whites of each other’s eyes is limiting their collaboration. He’s made some comments in the past that make me think he really worries that female employees are spending work time caring for their children from home. What should we do?

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