The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Two former Hilton Minneapolis bartenders are suing the downtown hotel, claiming they were punished for spurning a female manager’s sexual overtures and then complaining about sexual harassment.

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Minneapolis janitors working for Diversified Maintenance Systems have received conditional class-action status in an FLSA lawsuit that alleges the company orchestrated a timecard switching scheme designed to avoid paying overtime.

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There are now fewer union members than at any point in the past 70 years. And if employers, unencumbered by collective bargaining agreements, don’t spend much time worrying about unionization, it’s a safe bet that they give hardly any thought to how labor law intersects with the ways in which employees electronically communicate with one another. But there’s a powerful connection between the two.

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Take heart if you have ever de­­cided to reinstate an employee or re­­scind discipline because the employee threatened litigation. Doing so won’t wipe clean his disciplinary record or imply that you admitted he’s living up to your expectations.

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If you are a public employer committed to discouraging sexual har­­assment, make sure your supervisory training covers the topic. In particular, ensure that supervisors know they aren’t immune from liability if they harass a subordinate.

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The FMLA allows double damages for willful violations. Recently, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the extra damages can be levied against an employer that essentially rubber-stamps a supervisor’s wrongful termination decision.

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Sometimes, customers or clients make inappropriate remarks. How managers respond to those comments is important. Put on the spot, they may be at a loss for words. That may not be ideal, but it isn’t enough to create liability for the employer.

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An employee who quits during a suspension and pending investigation isn’t eligible for unemployment benefits.

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A former graphic designer for Corporate Graphics Commercial is suing the Mankato company, claiming he was fired for reporting anti-gay harassment by co-workers.

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Since 2007, when Minnesota’s Freedom to Breathe Act took effect, smoking has been banned in Minnesota workplaces. Now, new studies about the harmful effects of “third-hand smoke” have caused some employers to take their no-smoking policies to new heights.

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