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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

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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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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Here’s a tip that can save you time and money: When you receive a notice that an employee, applicant or former employee has filed a Title VII discrimination lawsuit in federal court, always double-check whether the employee has already filed an EEOC complaint or a Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) complaint (with the box for joint EEOC filing checked).

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Three state agencies—the Minne­sota departments of Commerce, Pub­lic Safety and Natural Resources—face nearly identical EEOC lawsuits claiming they discriminated against workers based on their age.

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When an employee files for bank­­ruptcy, he’s supposed to list any claim he has against an employer as an asset—for example, a lawsuit that requests monetary damages. But what happens if the employer files for bankruptcy? Does the em­­ployer have to list any claim against it as a liability?

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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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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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When employers get sloppy and don’t document their decision-making proc­­esses, things can get dicey. Consider what happens when an employee experiences work stress and starts taking FMLA and other leave. In one recent case, the employer was smart enough to carefully track its efforts to both accommodate an employee and get her back to work.

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It’s always good to have someone on the inside. At least that’s how Nancy and Laurie Sondrall must have felt. Nancy’s sister and Laurie’s aunt, Pamela Marie Dellis, was providing them with ill-gotten booty from the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

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