The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Minnesota lost 30,000 union jobs last year, and the rate of union membership statewide declined a full percentage point from 16.1% to 15.1%.

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Schwan’s, the Marshall-based frozen food company, must turn over data requested by the EEOC in a long-running sex discrimination case. Judge Janie Myeron ruled in favor of the EEOC’s subpoena requesting demographic data on employees who have entered the company’s management trainee program.

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It’s simply impossible to prevent all sexual harassment incidents. But you can take steps to protect your organization from most sexual harassment lawsuits. Make sure your sexual harassment reporting policy is clear, specific and well publicized.

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Sometimes, all it takes to stop a potential lawsuit based on a supervisor’s poor behavior is a timely warning. Take, for example, what might happen if a subordinate believed her supervisor was targeting her for poor treatment because of her race. If HR takes a strong stance and persuades the supervisor to change her approach, then a potential lawsuit may dissolve into nothing.

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Lately, the EEOC has been on a campaign to stamp out discrimination based on religion—especially discrimination related to religious dress. As part of that effort, the EEOC has focused on employment agencies, demanding that they do more to ensure that the employers they refer temporary workers to aren’t biased. Now the 8th Circuit has reined in the EEOC a bit—for the time being.

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According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Minnesota lost 30,000 union jobs last year, and the rate of union membership statewide declined a full percentage point from 16.1% to 15.1%.

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The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act provides job protection for employees who serve in the military and prohibits retaliation against anyone—including co-workers—who participates in an investigation or proceeding to enforce the law. But petty aggravations aren’t retaliatory.

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You probably know that in many cases where the employee wins a discrimination lawsuit, the employer has to pay the employee’s attorney. Fortunately, the reverse may also be true—if you manage to win dismissal of a clearly frivolous claim.

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St. Paul-based White Way Dry Cleaners has paid $42,250 to a former employee who filed an EEOC pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The case arose when Michelle Johnson was transferred from her job pressing clothes to a counter position after telling her bosses she was pregnant. White Way had a longstanding policy of transferring pregnant employees to protect them from chemicals used in the dry cleaning process.

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Home improvement giant Lowe’s is offering free health screenings to its employees. Lowe’s operates 13 stores in Minnesota, with more than 1,500 employees.

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