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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

People who identify themselves as Native Americans and believe they have been discriminated against may be able to sue based on two distinct claims for the same characteristic. Such individuals can claim discrimination based on national origin or race.

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It can happen to the best manager or HR professional. You discipline or demote an employee, and then, when she files an internal grievance or asks the company to reconsider, you conclude she shouldn’t have been disciplined or demoted in the first place. What should you do?

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Good news from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals: If you have a system for employees to call in sick, you can require everyone to use it—even employees on approved intermittent FMLA leave. The trick is to make sure that the employee taking FMLA leave understands she still must call in.

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The first bill signed into law by President Obama significantly expands employers’ exposure for possible claims of discriminatory pay. It’s too soon to tell whether the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act represents the beginning of a new wave of pro-employee legislation. But in and of itself, the law represents a significant development of which careful employers need be aware.

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For several years now, lawyers have been trying to create collective actions by finding one or two angry employees who think they were wrongly classified as exempt employees and therefore entitled to overtime pay. By pairing two or more cases, attorneys try to turn simple litigation into expensive collective-action claims. Now some federal judges are rethinking those cases—and it’s good news for employers.

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Former U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose retaliated against John Marti, a former first assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Minnesota, according to an investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

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Deborah Smith, a former night manager of the SkyWater Restaurant at the Hilton Minneapolis, has filed a lawsuit alleging she was fired for walking in on an orgy involving upper managers in December 2007.

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Employees who can show direct evidence of age discrimination will get their day in court. That direct evidence often comes after someone who played a part in making an employment decision (e.g., helped select a candidate for hire or promotion) makes a careless statement after the fact.

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Routine doctors’ appointments such as checkups or annual physicals aren’t considered eligible for FMLA leave, but appointments aimed at diagnosing a condition may be. Employers that know the employee is seeing a specialist as part of the followup to an auto accident, for example, are on notice that the employee may need to take FMLA leave …

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Oral agreements concerning compensation and bonus payments can be enforced in court, and that can lead to tricky “who said what” legal problems. Those are problems you can easily prevent with the help of good legal counsel.

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