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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Minnesota law doesn’t give employers a clear right to demand the return of copied documents when an employee leaves. It’s one reason that you may want an employment contract, noncompete agreement and confidentiality guarantee all wrapped up into one for employees who work with sensitive information.

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Employers may be surprised to learn there is a growing movement to add the unemployed to the list of people who belong to a protected class. If leaders in the U.S. Senate and the EEOC have their way, it may no longer be legal for em­­ployers to show a preference to hire only those who are currently employed.

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Note to small employers interested in avoiding unnecessary hassles—and lawsuits: If you receive an EEOC or local employment discrimination agency complaint, don’t assume or admit that you have enough employees to be covered by the law.

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Recently, the IRS unveiled a new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program, which allows eligible taxpayer employers to voluntarily reclassify workers as employees for federal employment tax purposes. The program features partial amnesty for past misclassifications. Even so, the recent government crackdown on worker misclassification continues to cause significant risk for employers.

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Many employees believe that the FMLA and its state counterpart, the Minnesota Parental Leave Act (MPLA), absolutely prevent an employer from terminating someone who asks for or takes parental leave. That’s not the case.

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The EEOC has filed racial discrimination charges against Eden Prairie-based Alliant Techsystems after the aerospace company withdrew a black woman’s job offer and then gave the position to a white man.

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Using its power under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration has taken over the 401(k) plan of the Northland Inn in Minne­apolis after the hotel’s owner ceased operations in 2009.

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Courts often have little patience for disorganized, incomprehensible lawsuits. Those cases are often filed by pro se litigants, who act as their own lawyers in court. Their rambling legal documents often make for difficult trials, so judges have frequently decided to toss them out. But now the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has told lower courts to rethink that approach.

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A federal judge has ruled that an em­­ployee who lost one ADA discrimination case because the court found she wasn’t disabled can’t sue again, claiming that she is disabled.

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Employees who take FMLA leave for their own serious health condition are entitled to return to their former jobs or equivalent ones once their leave is up. But if an employee still can’t perform an essential function of the old job, you may not have to reinstate him.

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