The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

HR can’t right all wrongs. When a supervisor rashly fires an employee for filing a complaint, not even fast action by HR to reinstate the employee can save the company from liability.

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Judges don’t want your job. They don’t see courtrooms as publicly funded HR offices, and will often try to defer to employer decisions as much as possible. That’s a huge advantage for employers. Capitalize on that by giving the court something to hang a favorable decision on. That something is often a clear and fair disciplinary process.

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It’s one of the HR profession’s hard truths: You never know which applicant may sue you if he or she isn’t hired. That means you must be ready to defend every hiring decision. The best way is to have a clear routine that everyone involved in the hiring process must use.

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Although they’re welcome to be more generous, employers are only obligated to provide six weeks of leave under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act

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The Supreme Court’s decision in Thompson v. North American Stainless underscores the need for employers to take proactive and thoughtful measures to prevent retaliation claims. Follow these practices to help avoid retaliation claims—not only from employees who have engaged in protected activity, but from those closely associated with them.

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The Equal Pay Act requires the same pay for women and men doing the same work under similar working conditions and requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility. But the law provides several ways for employers to defend pay disparities. Wage differences can be justified if they are based on a seniority or merit system, or vary depending on the quantity or quality of production.

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Minneapolis Fire Department Capt. Shanna Hanson was off-duty when she heard of the I-35 bridge collapse in August 2007. Nevertheless, she grabbed her gear and dove into the Mississippi River in hopes of finding survivors. Television coverage of the disaster made Hanson a local hero. Now, accumulated injuries have taken their toll on the 19-year veteran, so she is taking a $113,000 workers’ compensation buyout and hanging up her fire helmet.

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Perhaps nothing strikes more fear in an HR manager’s heart than learning that employees have filed a class-action wage-and-hour lawsuit alleging they were improperly classified as exempt employees. Your best defense is to be proactive about pay issues. Conduct regular reviews to make sure positions throughout your organization are properly classified as hourly or salaried.

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The Roundy’s supermarket chain faces a unique situation. Union members are handing out leaflets in front of stores, but they’re not disgruntled Roundy’s employees. They’re not even trying to organize Roundy’s employees. Now the grocery chain has asked the National Labor Relations Board to intervene.

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Do you have an hourly employee who seems to be getting a tremendous amount of work done? Make sure she isn’t skipping breaks.

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