The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

A federal court has ruled that work done by civilly committed sex offenders as part of their treatment program is exempt from the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Employers must respond promptly to allegations that employee misbehavior is creating a racially, sexually or otherwise hostile work environment. But what if all an employee only complains about is unspecified name calling?

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In a case that shows there is justice for employers, a federal court has dismissed a discrimination complaint because the employee’s attorney literally copied the allegations from another case in another state against a different employer.

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The rules regarding union representation and unfair labor practices are complex and confusing for employees and employers alike. That’s reason enough to get expert help with any union-related problems, including what to do when employees vote out a union.

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The Minnesota departments of Natural Resources, Commerce and Public Safety have settled EEOC age discrimination charges that resulted from early retirement packages offered to senior state employees.

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When employees can’t find an attorney to handle their em­­ployment discrimination claims, they sometimes go it alone, filing their own EEOC complaints and then moving on to federal court. Even if so-called pro se litigants pre­sent confusing and seemingly contradictory cases, chances are a federal judge will expect the em­­ployer to respond.

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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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