The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

The Minneapolis Fire Department isn’t adequately staffed and can’t cover the costs of “increasing sick-time usage, injury rates and overtime,” according to a report by a public safety consulting firm the city hired to analyze persistent staffing woes.

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People living in the United States are protected from state actions that violate the Constitution, a right that goes beyond those accorded to employees under Title VII.

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Punitive damages can take a case that’s worth just a few thousand dollars and send the tab skyrocketing. Fortunately, courts want to see clear evidence that the employer acted recklessly before they ask juries if punitive damages are appropriate.

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A discrimination lawsuit compares what happened to the complaining employee with what happened to others outside his protected class. Details matter. For example, an isolated instance of rude behavior is one thing, but constant rudeness is something else entirely. It can justify different, more severe punishment.

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Some employees assume that complaining about harassment or discrimination will protect them from being disciplined. They may have heard or read that the fear of a retaliation lawsuit will make employers so gun-shy that they won’t crack down on misbehavior. Don’t let employees handcuff you like that.

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When a St. Paul construction company hired members of the Crookston High School hockey team in 2010 to install drain pipes under the ice rinks at the Crookston Sports Center, it probably seemed like a great community project. In fact, Arena Systems committed the employment law equivalent of three coincidental major penalties.

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A court has decided employees can sue employers for national-origin discrimination based on an unexpected characteristic: the employee’s tribal affiliation. National-origin discrimination lawsuits are usually based on being from a particular country, but belonging to a specific tribe can count, too.

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Employees typically have just 300 days to file EEOC and state discrimination complaints. Otherwise, their lawsuits will be tossed out. But it’s the employer’s burden to prove the complaint was filed too late—not the employee’s burden to prove he filed on time.

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On the June 20 anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 2011 Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision, Sen. Al Franken, D–Minn., introduced the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act, designed to make it easier for employees to file class-action lawsuits.

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When you have several good applicants for a job opening, picking the best-qualified candidate isn’t easy. While you should be as objective as possible, the final decision can have a subjective element. Just make sure you document a good business reason to back up your choice.

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