The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Many employers have adopted so-called zero-tolerance rules prohibiting any kind of violence at work. The reason: Getting rid of violent employees is crucial to maintaining a safe work environment. But be careful how you enforce the rule. If you ever make exceptions, you’re asking for a lawsuit.

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It’s the employment law case everyone is watching. A massive, long-running gender pay discrimination class action against Walmart has overcome another hurdle on its way to what could become the largest payout to employees in U.S. history. The plaintiffs—potentially 1.5 million women who have worked at 3,400 Walmart stores—got a victory in April when the full panel 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go-ahead for the case to proceed.

 

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Some employees think they can behave like jerks at work without any consequences—as long as they don’t harass co-workers. You don’t have to put up with that kind of nonsense. Instead, institute clear rules against such behavior. Put them in your employee handbook. Then enforce those rules—up to and including firing those who just won’t change their ways.

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The National Association for Female Executives has named General Mills as one of the top 10 firms for women leaders. General Mills made the list because the company’s top five earners are women.

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Alfonzo Harlin took a job with the New Hope Emergency Food Shelf Network in late 2008. He claimed his new employer told him his health insurance premiums would be about $285 per month. When he found out the premiums would actually be more than $700 per month, he quit. Then he filed for unemployment benefits.

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In recent years, employees have begun filing more and more “caregiver” or “family responsibility” discrimination lawsuits. No federal or Minnesota law specifically addresses discrimination against caregivers. However, treating employees with caregiving responsibilities differently than other employees may violate various employment laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA, the FMLA and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

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You naturally expect people to show up for work on time. But you could get into trouble if you don’t have a written policy saying so. Having written rules makes it more likely employees will understand your expectations.

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When Elizabeth Johnson complained about unsafe working conditions at the Northland Learning Center, a cooperative of alternative schools for children with disabilities in Minnesota’s Iron Range, her boss took no action. Frustrated, Johnson wrote an anonymous letter to the local newspaper outlining the problems. That got the school’s attention …

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You naturally expect people to show up for work on time. But you could get into trouble if you don’t have a written policy saying so. Having written rules makes it more likely employees will understand your expectations.

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Regis Corp., a national hair salon chain based in the Twin Cities, operates numerous outlets under Regis Salons, Cost Cutters, Supercuts, MasterCuts and other brands. CEO Paul Finkelstein was so concerned about the effects of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, he decided to be proactive. But his actions may have violated the NLRA.

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