The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Sometimes it’s best to scrap the metrics and go with your gut—even in the stats-happy world of professional sports. So far, the Minnesota Vikings are glad they did. Given Brett Favre’s remarkable season thus far, it’s probably a good thing that, before signing him, they didn’t pay any attention to a Bizjournals survey that ranked him 34th out the 36 NFL quarterbacks in 2008, when he played for the Jets.

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A University of Minnesota study of sexual harassment shows that female supervisors are more likely to be harassed than women with no supervisory duties. More than half of the female supervisors who responded to the survey reported having been sexually harassed on the job. But only 30% of women with no supervisory duties reported harassment.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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