The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Here’s some good news that will make it easier for employers that want to challenge unemployment compensation claims after firing an employee for misconduct. The HR representative who conducted the investigation can testify about what others said, provided that any written statements are also presented.

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Employees who are terminated because they become ill and can’t meet attendance standards can still collect unemployment compensation benefits. But employees terminated because they didn’t follow call-in policies can’t. That’s misconduct, which bars receiving benefits.

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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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In response to employee complaints about electrical hazards at the U.S. Postal Service’s processing center in Eagan, OSHA in June fined the post office $210,000 for willful violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

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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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Minnesota employees who make good-faith reports about safety concerns are protected from retaliation. Before you approve a termination recommendation, make sure the employee hasn’t recently complained about safety issues. If he has, verify that the discharge reasons are genuine. Otherwise, prepare for a retaliation lawsuit.

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There’s at least one upside to having a unionized workforce: Employees who have disagreements over pay or benefits generally have to use the arbitration process authorized in the union contract to pursue their claims. Your collective-bargaining agreement can save employers from expensive trips to the federal courts.

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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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