The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 65
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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Minneapolis-based grocery chain Supervalu faces a lawsuit from a former employee at a distribution center in Pennsylvania. Long-time employee Terri Wolfinger claims the company changed the lifting requirements in her job description to prevent her from returning to work after she injured her arm.

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The federal Office of Federal Con­­tract Compliance Programs is suing New York Mills-based Lund Boat Co. and parent company Bruns­­wick Corp., alleging discrimination against women in its hiring practices.

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Employees who quit usually aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. Only those who quit for “a good reason caused by their employer” are eligible for benefits.

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Ignoring an employee’s persistent complaints that she’s being paid less than her male counterparts may amount to a willful violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). And willful violations add a year onto the two years of back-pay liability.

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Under Minnesota’s Whistle­­blower Act, employees who report alleged employer wrongdoing to their employer or the government are protected from retaliation. Those employees don’t have to be right about their allegations—they just have to act in good faith. If their allegations have an “objective basis in fact,” they are protected by the law.

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The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) is supposed to ensure that men and women doing the same job aren’t paid differently based on their sex. But employees can’t win EPA lawsuits simply by comparing their rates of pay and job titles. Lots of factors unrelated to gender may in­­fluence pay.

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Some employees facing criticism will own up to the problem and work to improve. Others simply refuse to recognize that their per­­formance is subpar or contributing to discord in the workplace. Either way, it’s worth at least ex­­tend­­ing to the employee a chance to improve and keep his job—after you have docu­mented the nature of the problem.

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Here’s something to remember the next time you agonize over discharging an employee for breaking a rule: While you should treat all employees honestly, you don’t have to conduct a mini trial to determine “guilt.” It’s enough to believe you had a legitimate reason to fire the employee—even if it later turns out you were wrong.

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Many employers (and the consultants who encourage them) aren’t doing a good job of managing the legal risk and cost associated with wellness programs that ignore the law. Federal, state and sometimes local laws can affect wellness programs. Employers need to understand them.

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There may be a class-action lawsuit lurking in your delivery charges if you automatically tack on extra fees for delivering pizza or other food directly to homes or businesses and that money doesn’t go straight to the delivery drivers.

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