The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Good news for government agencies: People who apply for government work don’t have a property interest in a potential job, even if they make the list of finalists, and others on the list don’t want the job. That’s true even if the hiring committee states it plans to hire someone from the list and then does not.

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The EEOC received a record 99,922 charges in the 2010 fiscal year—the most the agency has received in its 45-year history. Given this sharp increase in charge activity, now is a good time to review your personnel policies and practices to make sure you’re taking appropriate steps to help prevent potential dis­crimination claims.

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Some work environments are more prone to sexual harassment than others. That shouldn’t keep you from hiring women for positions in a largely male workplace. The answer is to educate em­ployees about harassment and then punish anyone who violates your anti-harassment policy.

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Some employees think they can walk out on their jobs as soon as it looks like their employer is going to violate their rights. Then they sue, arguing constructive discharge. But courts expect employees to give their employers a chance to right wrongs.

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On occasion, an employee may be too embarrassed to directly confront sexual harassment. Instead, she may complain to a supervisor about unspecified problems. If the complaints are vague and wouldn’t cause a reasonable person to understand the issue of sexual harassment, the employee will have a hard time winning a lawsuit.

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After an electrical worker suffered severe burns while working on an Illinois wind turbine, OSHA cited the Minnesota company that owns the facility for six willful safety violations.

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The Minnesota Department of Human Services has agreed to pay more than $467,000 to settle an age discrimination complaint filed by retired staffers.

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Employers can’t just ignore it if an employee asks for time off as a religious accommodation. The better approach is to schedule the employee for work and wait for him to request time off for religious observances. Then carefully consider the request, and document your efforts and conclusions.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that employees don’t automatically become eligible for unemployment compensation benefits just because their employer didn’t follow its own progressive disciplinary policy outlined in the employee handbook.

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A former Wells Fargo loan officer in Maple Grove has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for his part in approving $4.3 million in fraudulent loans. The bank took a $1.5 million loss on the deal.

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