The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

The Minnesota Nurses Association signed a three-year collective bargaining agreement with 14 Twin Cities hospitals on July 6, just days before a strike deadline set by the union. The hospitals had sought the right to “float” registered nurses to any hospital at any time, but eventually backed off that demand and a proposal to modify nurse pensions.

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Here’s a twist on the already complicated matter of accommodating religious practices in the workplace. Employers might assume that if they come up with an accommodation that resolves the conflict, they have done all that’s required. It’s not that simple.

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Minneapolis-St. Paul’s low crime and unemployment rates nudged the Twin Cities past Washington, D.C., and Boston to gain the top spot on Forbes magazine’s best city for working mothers list.

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Following past recessions, hiring typically took place across the age spectrum once recovery began. Not this time. The Great Recession and its hiring hangover have hit older workers particularly hard. That’s sure to mean more lawsuits. Employment lawyers smell blood and will soon be going after employers they perceive as having policies biased against hiring older workers.

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It seems elementary that employees should work when they are being paid. But some employees apparently think it is fine to take unauthorized breaks by holing up in an inconspicuous place. You don’t have to put up with it.

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If you have a policy that tries to limit employees’ Internet use, make sure your IT department has an accurate and very specific way to measure that usage. Otherwise, an employee who’s fired for violating the policy may end up collecting unemployment compensation.

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Managers and HR professionals are often pulled in many directions at once and don’t always have time to independently review the personnel decisions that line supervisors make. Under what’s commonly referred to as the “cat’s paw” theory, an employee can win a discrimination claim even if the employer successfully proves that the actual decision-maker didn’t intend to discriminate—or even knew that the employee was a member of a protected class.

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An EEOC disability discrimination suit against Hibbing Taconite seems likely headed for trial after a federal district court judge refused to dismiss charges against the Mesabi Iron Range mining firm. The case involves a hearing-impaired job applicant with years of mining experience, whom the company refused to hire, according to the EEOC complaint.

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Employees and their lawyers know to dig deep when they’re considering filing a discrimination lawsuit. They hunt for anything that smacks of unequal treatment based on some protected classification—and if they find something, they’ll sue. Consider this example:

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Employers aren’t required to go out of their way to encourage employees to have a doctor certify a serious health condition that qualifies for FMLA leave.

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