The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement can’t claim additional quasi-contractual rights, as the following case shows.

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Employers aren’t obligated to honor religious accommodation requests if doing so would significantly hamper operations or inconvenience co-workers. For example, accommodating a request for every Sabbath day off could effectively invalidate a collective-bargaining seniority system and create a real hardship for the other employees who would have to work instead.

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Many employers think expectant ­mothers can take FMLA leave only for childbirth and baby bonding. They don’t realize that any medical appointments and pregnancy-related illnesses are also eligible for FMLA leave.

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Employers in highly technical fields sometimes sponsor immigrant workers and help them secure work visas and eventual “green card” status as permanent resident aliens. When those visas are set to expire and it appears the employee may not be able to renew the work authorization, employers aren’t discriminating on the basis of national origin if they elect to terminate the employee.

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HR can’t right all wrongs. When a supervisor rashly fires an employee for filing a complaint, not even fast action by HR to reinstate the employee can save the company from liability.

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Judges don’t want your job. They don’t see courtrooms as publicly funded HR offices, and will often try to defer to employer decisions as much as possible. That’s a huge advantage for employers. Capitalize on that by giving the court something to hang a favorable decision on. That something is often a clear and fair disciplinary process.

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It’s one of the HR profession’s hard truths: You never know which applicant may sue you if he or she isn’t hired. That means you must be ready to defend every hiring decision. The best way is to have a clear routine that everyone involved in the hiring process must use.

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Although they’re welcome to be more generous, employers are only obligated to provide six weeks of leave under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act

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The Supreme Court’s decision in Thompson v. North American Stainless underscores the need for employers to take proactive and thoughtful measures to prevent retaliation claims. Follow these practices to help avoid retaliation claims—not only from employees who have engaged in protected activity, but from those closely associated with them.

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The Equal Pay Act requires the same pay for women and men doing the same work under similar working conditions and requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility. But the law provides several ways for employers to defend pay disparities. Wage differences can be justified if they are based on a seniority or merit system, or vary depending on the quantity or quality of production.

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