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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Treating disabled employees differently than others raises all kinds of red flags that disability discrimination may be afoot. For example, setting higher standards for disabled employees than you do for others is a surefire way to end up in front of a jury, as the following case shows.

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If you pay employees on a commission basis and allow them to draw against those commissions, be very careful how you word the contract language. If you don’t specify that employees must repay any draws they do not earn back with commissions, they won’t have to.

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Here’s a bit of good news for employers trying to make sure they don’t violate the Fair Labor Standards Act: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that employees—not employers—have the initial burden of showing they actually worked during unpaid lunch or other break periods.

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There’s a new I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form for employers to complete when hiring employees and reverifying the employment eligibility of certain employees with temporary work authorization. Make sure you have a properly completed Form I-9 for every employee to avoid legal penalties for hiring unauthorized workers.

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The Star-Tribune, one of the 20 largest newspapers in the country, has signed on to a class-action settlement agreement involving two women who filed sexual harassment charges against the company. The agreement was worked out by the EEOC after two women working in the mailroom claimed they were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment.

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Employers have to let their employees know about the FMLA so they can take advantage of the leave guaranteed by the law. But if an employee doesn’t take advantage of his FMLA rights, the employer can’t be held liable for not providing leave even if it turns out the employee was eligible.

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OSHA is responsible for worker safety, and it takes that responsibility seriously. It recently won a significant victory in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld OSHA’s right to hold contractors liable for their subcontractors’ safety violations.

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More and more employers are asking their HR staffs to prepare noncompete agreements to prevent employees from taking trade secrets to competitors. Before you pull out a standard form or download one from the Internet, consider the consequences.

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Minnesota employees are protected from being fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. That means employers have to think twice before discharging such an employee for anything but the most solid reasons.

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Sometimes, employees think they can save themselves from being disciplined by making a fuss about possible employer wrongdoing. They assume that whistle-blowing will protect them from being fired, for example, because their employer’s timing will look suspect. Smart employers don’t fall for this.

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