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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Minnesota finished near the bottom in the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s (SBEC) Business Tax Index for 2009. The only ones ranking lower than Minnesota: New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

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When you settle a lawsuit involving discrimination or some other employment matter, you typically want that to be the end of it. But what if the former employee applies for an open position? Avoid a second lawsuit by including a condition in the settlement that bars the employee from ever seeking employment with the company again.

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Here’s a reminder for all your supervisors and managers when they are interviewing and selecting potential employees. Tell them they must never promise a job before getting approval. Doing so may mean a lawsuit if the applicant relies on the promise to his detriment.

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Employees who take FMLA leave are entitled to their former jobs or equivalent ones when they return to work. But sometimes employers that operate many locations move employees around to cover for the employee on FMLA leave. They may not want to move those employees again. Can the returning employee be assigned to another location?

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Employers don’t have to provide a disabled employee with an indefinite leave of absence when the employee has a medical emergency and doesn’t know how long it will take to return. As long as the employee isn’t covered by the FMLA (in which case, she is entitled to 12 unpaid weeks of leave), you can terminate the employee without violating the ADA.

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According to a study sponsored by several Minnesota-based women’s business groups and executive search firm Spencer Stuart, Minnesota is second only to New York and Illinois in female board membership among its publicly traded companies.

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Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Ohio State recently conducted a study to determine whether local laws requiring complete or partial smoking bans in bars and restaurants drive away customers, causing workers to lose their jobs. Bar and restaurant owners, who generally oppose smoking bans, have long argued that’s exactly what happens. The verdict?

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Members of the military have greater on-the-job protection than many other employees—including the right to return to their former jobs following a period of active-duty service. They also have the right not to be terminated or otherwise punished for being part of the armed services and taking military leave.

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Treating disabled employees differently than others raises all kinds of red flags that disability discrimination may be afoot. For example, setting higher standards for disabled employees than you do for others is a surefire way to end up in front of a jury, as the following case shows.

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If you pay employees on a commission basis and allow them to draw against those commissions, be very careful how you word the contract language. If you don’t specify that employees must repay any draws they do not earn back with commissions, they won’t have to.

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