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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

You are no doubt familiar with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It prohibits various kinds of discrimination and also spells out tight deadlines for when employees must file complaints with a state discrimination agency or the EEOC. But there is another avenue employees can use to get into federal court, as long as race is at the core of the discrimination claim: Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act.

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Do you require employees to sign an agreement to arbitrate workplace disputes as a condition of employment? If so, you don’t lose the right to force the case into arbitration if you don’t ask for it during an EEOC investigation.

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Employees are entitled to work in an environment free from religious harassment, and employers should treat such harassment just as seriously as they do any other kind of harassment. Do that by promptly investigating complaints and fixing any problems you discover. What you don’t want to do is ignore religious harassment.

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Pregnant women have many legal protections under Title VII’s sex discrimination provisions, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the FMLA. They rarely, however, qualify as disabled. That’s because normal pregnancies may create temporary difficulties, but they’re not severe enough to count as substantial limitations …

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A group of 200 community and religious leaders marched on the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) building on July 23 to demand renewed efforts to hire more women and minorities. According to protesters, Mn/DOT is employing fewer women and minorities, even as federal stimulus dollars and state infrastructure spending have swelled the agency’s employee rolls.

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Companies that fire lots of employees get sued for discrimination by many of the castoffs. But all those terminations may be an indication of employee/management personality conflicts, not discrimination.

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Twin Cities employers have another recruiting tool. Ronald McDonald is lovin’ it here! In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Happy Meal, McDonald’s hired Sperling’s Best Places Research to evaluate the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas for family fun. When the results were tabulated, Minneapolis came out on top.

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Some bosses are visibly irked when they receive a doctor’s note restricting the work an employee can perform. If the employee notices that reaction and then gets disciplined or fired, watch out for a lawsuit! Her attorney will probably try to link the timing of the doctor’s note and the adverse employment action as proof of discrimination or retaliation. 

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If your organization is a target for union organizing or your employees have recently voted to be represented by a union, be careful how you respond. You should consult with an experienced labor lawyer before you do anything else. Consider what happened in one recent case.

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In one of its most anticipated employment law decisions in years, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that New Haven, Conn., discriminated against white firefighters when it refused to promote them after they passed a test that most black co-workers failed.

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