The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

The GAO recently released a detailed report with a set of recommendations to address the persistent, widespread problem of employer misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The report urges the DOL and the IRS to step up enforcement efforts, so now’s a particularly opportune time for employers that have classified any workers as independent contractors to carefully review those decisions.

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If you’re looking to remedy past discrimination by adopting employment policies that encourage minority hiring, watch out! You may be vulnerable to a reverse discrimination lawsuit. That may be true even if your policies resulted from a court order to address discrimination.

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Most employers have policies in place to prevent or stop sexual harassment by supervisors and co-workers. Today, that isn’t enough. The reality is that you must also protect employees from customer or client harassment. Unless your sexual harassment policy addresses such harassment, you may find yourself facing a jury trial.

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You have to handle plenty of serious employee gripes about benefits and harassment. But as shown by a new CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 HR pros and hiring managers, you also have had to deal with some truly offbeat complaints. Some highlights:

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A federal court hearing a Minnesota case has concluded that the amendments to the ADA that were enacted in 2008 are not retroactive. That means you don’t have to worry that employees will sue over alleged violations that occurred before the amendments were passed …

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Here’s a wage-and-hour problem that may trip up Minnesota employers: Employees who have to pay their own travel expenses may end up making less than minimum wage. Allowing this to happen when the expenses exceed $50 may also violate Minnesota’s prohibition on deducting more than that amount for employee expenses.

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Employees sometimes think taking FMLA leave—or even just asking for the time off—protects them from being disciplined or discharged. Not so. Employers are free to discipline or discharge employees if they can show they would have taken the same action even if the employee never asked for or received FMLA leave.

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When employers discipline employees following an argument or other confrontation, getting the facts straight is crucial. Recent case: Kevin Phillips, who is black, was fired after he got into a fight with a white supervisor. Another supervisor witnessed the incident. However, Phillips was the only one involved who was punished …

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One good way to eliminate discrimination lawsuits is to have the same manager who hired an employee also handle the termination if you need to let the employee go.

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According to the EEOC, White Way Cleaners discriminated against a female worker when it first moved her from the cleaning line to the front counter during her first pregnancy and then again when it terminated her after learning she was pregnant again.

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