The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

A Minnesota court of appeals has ruled that ex-employees who are collecting unemployment can have their benefits reduced if they are due to receive commissions from their former employers.

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Here’s a potential electronic communications problem you may not have considered. An employee who forwards e-mail from a company computer and e-mail account to his personal address may end up using those e-mails later in litigation against the company. That’s one reason it makes sense to prohibit employees from forwarding e-mails to their personal e-mail accounts.

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Employees sometimes think that just calling in sick is enough to put their employers on notice that they need FMLA leave. That’s simply not the case. In the following case, the 8th Circuit concluded the new language in the FMLA means employers aren’t obligated to guess about an employee’s need for FMLA leave based on behavior.

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The GAO recently released a detailed report with a set of recommendations to address the persistent, widespread problem of employer misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The report urges the DOL and the IRS to step up enforcement efforts, so now’s a particularly opportune time for employers that have classified any workers as independent contractors to carefully review those decisions.

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If your counter service employees share tips customers leave in a tip jar, how you divvy up the money is important. A new case makes it clear that those tips must be counted at the end of each shift and shared among the employees who worked that shift.

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The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in late September upheld a lower court ruling that the National Football League cannot suspend Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for violating the sport’s drug policy.

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Employees who complain about discrimination are protected from retaliation—but not from every consequence of their complaint. Take, for example, what often naturally occurs when someone files a harassment complaint that turns out to be unfounded or unworthy of drastic action like firing the alleged harasser. There’s bound to be backlash from other employees …

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The Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act says, “Before requesting an employee to undergo drug or alcohol testing, an employer shall provide the employee with a form, developed by the employer, on which to acknowledge that the employee has seen the employer’s drug and alcohol testing policy.” Does that mean the employee has to sign the form immediately before the test is administered?

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An employee who has been discharged may go looking for some underlying reason other than poor performance to explain why she got the ax. And she may suddenly remember incidents that now seem awfully a lot like sexual harassment. Your best defense to such charges is a robust harassment and discrimination policy that tracks every complaint.

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Some work environments are more at risk than others for sexual harassment to develop and fester. And those employers have a special obligation to look for harassment—and stop it. For example, if a few women now hold jobs traditionally performed by men, make sure the women aren’t being subjected to sexually demeaning or offensive conduct.

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