The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Minnesota employees who make good-faith reports about safety concerns are protected from retaliation. Before you approve a termination recommendation, make sure the employee hasn’t recently complained about safety issues. If he has, verify that the discharge reasons are genuine. Otherwise, prepare for a retaliation lawsuit.

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There’s at least one upside to having a unionized workforce: Employees who have disagreements over pay or benefits generally have to use the arbitration process authorized in the union contract to pursue their claims. Your collective-bargaining agreement can save employers from expensive trips to the federal courts.

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If you have a policy that tries to limit employees’ Internet use, make sure your IT department has an accurate and very specific way to measure that usage. Otherwise, an employee who’s fired for violating the policy may end up collecting unemployment compensation.

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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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An EEOC disability discrimination suit against Hibbing Taconite seems likely headed for trial after a federal district court judge refused to dismiss charges against the Mesabi Iron Range mining firm. The case involves a hearing-impaired job applicant with years of mining experience, whom the company refused to hire, according to the EEOC complaint.

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Managers and HR professionals are often pulled in many directions at once and don’t always have time to independently review the personnel decisions that line supervisors make. Under what’s commonly referred to as the “cat’s paw” theory, an employee can win a discrimination claim even if the employer successfully proves that the actual decision-maker didn’t intend to discriminate—or even knew that the employee was a member of a protected class.

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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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Employers aren’t required to go out of their way to encourage employees to have a doctor certify a serious health condition that qualifies for FMLA leave.

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According to a complaint by former St. Cloud Police Officer Sean Lathrop, he was a rising star in the department until his supervisors found out he was gay. Then his career prospects suddenly dimmed. Now he’s suing.

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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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