The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

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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When you find out that an employee has been doing things that make the work environment sexually hostile, you must fix the problem right away. The sooner you do, the less likely that an employee will successfully sue. That’s because employees have just 300 days to file EEOC charges. That clock starts ticking as soon as you start acting to clean up the environment.

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Golden Valley-based General Mills has been dubbed one of the top five employers in the nation for multicultural women by Working Mother magazine.

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At some point, an unsuccessful job candidate may challenge your decision not to hire him. Then you will have to justify your selection process. The more objective criteria you use, the more likely a court will agree not to second-guess your decision. But if you add subjective elements to the process, you may end up being charged with discrimination.

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Employees who lose their jobs often think the reason just has to be discrimination. Their first stop after receiving their pink slips: a lawyer’s office. If the resulting lawsuit is meritless, push hard for dismissal.

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Consider this scenario: An employee lodges a complaint that her sex or race kept her from being promoted. Shortly after, you offer her an opportunity for advancement. She then turns around and sues, alleging that the offer was a sham. Fortunately, courts are rejecting such arguments.

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Employees who lose their jobs often think the reason just has to be discrimination. Their first stop after receiving their pink slips: a lawyer’s office. If the resulting lawsuit is meritless, push hard for dismissal.

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If you offer short-term disability (STD) benefits for employees who can’t work because of illness, you probably insist on medical documentation. If the employee doesn’t provide that information within the reasonable timeline your STD plan requires, you can count the absence against the employee and terminate her.

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The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) makes it an unfair employment practice to terminate an employee based on marital status. The Court of Appeals of Minnesota has now clarified that the law covers more than the state of being married; it also bans discrimination based on who one’s spouse is.

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