The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Employees out on disability or FMLA leave sometimes need to supplement their incomes. Taking a part-time job within medical restrictions is one solution. That may seem disloyal. But firing the employee will probably make her eligible for unemployment benefits.

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There’s whistle-blowing and then there’s setting up one’s employer for a lawsuit. Genuine whistle-blowers are protected from retaliation. Those looking to make a quick buck are not.

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Some employees aren’t able to perform their jobs after returning from FMLA leave. Employers can certainly raise the issue with the employee and can even terminate the employee if she can’t do her old job.

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Sexual harassment is always a serious issue that warrants fast corrective action. In most cases, it’s appropriate to simply separate the alleged harasser and victim while you investigate. But more immediate help may be in order if the harasser and the victim are traveling together or isolated.

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Warn decision-makers who decide to act on their own, ignoring HR’s guidance: Juries can hold them personally liable for legal missteps—and make them pay punitive damages.

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In January, the National Labor Relations Board held that employers may not require employees to sign arbitration agreements that waive their rights to bring class or collective actions. The D.R. Horton decision will probably be appealed. In the meantime, however, the ruling holds important implications for employers.

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The current labor environment provides opportunities for unionized employers to negotiate more favorable collective bargaining agreements. Because of the economic realities affecting U.S. workplaces and the politics of labor unions, employers are finding that unions are open to addressing subjects on which they previously had resisted change.

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Chances are, you have a sexual harassment policy that gives em­­ployees several ways to report har­­ass­­ment—maybe including a hotline for phoning in problems. But beware: An employee may file an EEOC complaint before you even have a chance to investigate alleged harassment. If that happens, your hotline records may play a crucial role in your defense.

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When training managers and supervisors on how to treat subordinates, make sure they understand they should never make any belligerent statements that could be interpreted as defamation or slander.

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Under the ADA, employees who claim to be disabled must show that their condition substantially im­­­pairs a major life function. Min­ne­sota has its own version of the law. It requires that employees show their condition materially impairs a major life function. That’s a lower standard, but still a tough one for employees to prove.

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