The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Following past recessions, hiring typically took place across the age spectrum once recovery began. Not this time. The Great Recession and its hiring hangover have hit older workers particularly hard. That’s sure to mean more lawsuits. Employment lawyers smell blood and will soon be going after employers they perceive as having policies biased against hiring older workers.

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According to a complaint by former St. Cloud Police Officer Sean Lathrop, he was a rising star in the department until his supervisors found out he was gay. Then his career prospects suddenly dimmed. Now he’s suing.

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Employers aren’t required to go out of their way to encourage employees to have a doctor certify a serious health condition that qualifies for FMLA leave.

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An EEOC disability discrimination suit against Hibbing Taconite seems likely headed for trial after a federal district court judge refused to dismiss charges against the Mesabi Iron Range mining firm. The case involves a hearing-impaired job applicant with years of mining experience, whom the company refused to hire, according to the EEOC complaint.

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According to a complaint by former St. Cloud Police Officer Sean Lathrop, he was a rising star in the department until his supervisors found out he was gay. Then his career prospects suddenly dimmed. Now he’s suing.

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Managers and HR professionals are often pulled in many directions at once and don’t always have time to independently review the personnel decisions that line supervisors make. Under what’s commonly referred to as the “cat’s paw” theory, an employee can win a discrimination claim even if the employer successfully proves that the actual decision-maker didn’t intend to discriminate—or even knew that the employee was a member of a protected class.

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In response to employee complaints about electrical hazards at the U.S. Postal Service’s processing center in Eagan, OSHA in June fined the post office $210,000 for willful violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

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It seems elementary that employees should work when they are being paid. But some employees apparently think it is fine to take unauthorized breaks by holing up in an inconspicuous place. You don’t have to put up with it.

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If you have a policy that tries to limit employees’ Internet use, make sure your IT department has an accurate and very specific way to measure that usage. Otherwise, an employee who’s fired for violating the policy may end up collecting unemployment compensation.

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There’s at least one upside to having a unionized workforce: Employees who have disagreements over pay or benefits generally have to use the arbitration process authorized in the union contract to pursue their claims. Your collective-bargaining agreement can save employers from expensive trips to the federal courts.

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