The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Here’s something to consider when setting pay rates for jobs in different locations and with slightly different responsibilities: Under the Equal Pay Act, employers can set different salaries based on geographically distinct job locations.

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Here’s some help for HR professionals trying to do all they can to safeguard their organization’s exempt/nonexempt employee classifications—especially in an economic climate that requires companies to do more with less:

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Eventually, every employer will have to investigate some sort of workplace concern. Whether because of a dispute between co-workers or a need to address unethical or unlawful behavior, workplace investigations are an important and delicate exercise. The following tips will help investigations produce useful results.

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Do you try to cut labor costs by hiring independent contractors to do employees’ jobs? If so, consider this risk: Both employees and independent contractors who do the same or similar work could join together and sue over unpaid wages and overtime.

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Employees have tight deadlines for filing discrimination complaints. But the clock doesn’t start ticking on those deadlines until the employee knows he’s been fired. If you’re terminating someone, be sure to make that clear!

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If an employee gets a certification showing he has a serious health condition under the FMLA, you can request a second, independent assessment. But if the second opinion says the condition isn’t serious, that’s not the final word. FMLA regulations require a third opinion as the tie-breaker.

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3M Companies appears poised to settle a high-profile age discrimination suit. Earlier this year, the company filed a joint motion for preliminary ap­proval of a class-action settlement involving approximately 7,000 workers. If the Ramsey County District Court agrees, the employees (and their attorneys) will split $12 million.

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The DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Admin­is­tra­tion (EBSA) has sued Parkland Hotel Investors—once one of the Twin Cities’ biggest commercial financiers—in an attempt to distribute the company’s 401(k) assets to 96 former employees who participated in its retirement plan.

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Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement can’t claim additional quasi-contractual rights, as the following case shows.

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Employers aren’t obligated to honor religious accommodation requests if doing so would significantly hamper operations or inconvenience co-workers. For example, accommodating a request for every Sabbath day off could effectively invalidate a collective-bargaining seniority system and create a real hardship for the other employees who would have to work instead.

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