The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

The best estimates are expected to show that Minnesota’s unemployment insurance fund spent about twice what it took in during 2009. With state unemployment running at about 7.6%, the state has paid out approximately $1.6 billion in benefits in 2009, but only taken in about $850 million.

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A nationwide hobby and gift store chain will pay $35,000 into a supplemental needs trust account for Julie Tufts, a former employee of the Hobby Lobby store in Rochester.

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Businesses that plan to lay off enough workers to trigger the federal WARN Act must give 60 days’ notice to employees and state officials. That’s supposed to allow state Rapid Response teams enough time to start helping find new jobs for soon-to-be displaced workers. But the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) says in many cases employer cooperation is grudging at best.

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Freshman Sen. Al Franken has scored his first legislative victory. Joining forces with Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, Franken proposed an amendment to the recently enacted Defense Appropriations bill that bars defense contractors from requiring employees to use arbitration to resolve workplace discrimination complaints of sexual assault, harassment or other Title VII violations.

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It’s a serious mistake to wrongly classify employees as exempt when they should be designated as hourly workers eligible for overtime. Be especially wary of one of the most common errors: Applying the exempt administrative classification to employees just because they perform nonmanual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the company.

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If you believe an employee has been stealing from your organization, you may not have the time or resources to launch an investigation worthy of "Law and Order." If it’s your consistent policy to terminate those accused of stealing, fire away.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be conducting I-9 audits of employers performing work on “critical infrastructure” over the winter months. About 1,000 employers—mainly in defense- and law enforcement-related industries—are being targeted for the audits. The new audit crackdown may be a sign of things to come.

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If your organization uses arbitration agreements to help keep employment disputes out of court, make sure the agreement is drafted to be as broad as possible. Your best bet: Have an attorney write or review the agreement.

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With so many companies focused on downsizing to contain costs in a down economy, many employers have failed to prepare for a pending change that will significantly alter workforce demographics. Beginning in 2011, the first of the baby boomers will turn 65. As the rest of the roughly 70 million baby boomers follow, we’ll see a major shift in the age of our society—and our workforces. This shift will have a significant impact on employers.

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A Minnesota court of appeals has ruled that ex-employees who are collecting unemployment can have their benefits reduced if they are due to receive commissions from their former employers.

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