The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Outback Steakhouse has agreed to pay $1.25 million to Minnesota em­­ployees to remedy what servers at the restaurant chain said was an illegal tip-pooling procedure under state law.

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Here’s a small measure of comfort if your company is caught in a hostile environment scandal involving a single division or facility: Employees who sue for discrimination in other departments, divisions or locations can’t use those cases against you in court unless they were directly affected by that particular hostile environment.

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Independent contractors aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation when their services are no longer needed. But just because you sign an agreement that says someone is an independent contractor doesn’t mean he really is.

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Didn’t receive a copy of an EEOC complaint within 300 days of when you discharged an employee? Ordi­­narily, that would mean you could rest easy, knowing that no lawsuit could arise. But that’s not always the case.

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If you want to fire someone for misconduct, here’s a good reason not to drag your feet on it. If the delay is too long between the alleged misconduct and the termination, the employee may get unemployment compensation.

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Employers will win in the long run if they exercise restraint and use patience when dealing with an employee who clearly is looking for a lawsuit. It will take work.

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When it comes to reductions in force, employees on FMLA leave don’t have greater rights than those who haven’t taken FMLA leave. That means if an employer can show it would have chosen the FMLA leave-taker for termination even if she had been at work, there’s no FMLA violation. But employers that are sloppy about the RIF process may end up in court.

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Minnesota-based 3M has agreed to pay $3 million to 290 former em­­ployees to settle an EEOC lawsuit that claimed layoffs in 2003 and 2006 disproportionately targeted workers age 45 and older.

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Before you implement an involuntary reduction in force, make sure you determine whether you’re vul­­nerable to an age discrimination lawsuit. You can do this by seeing what percentage of the workforce was over age 40 before the planned layoff …

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Workplace bullying is an issue that employers should pay attention to—to get ahead of potential legal obligations and mitigate the high business costs of bullying. Some steps employers might consider taking include: Adopt a “no jerks” rule, and adopt and en­­force an anti-bullying policy.

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