The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

The National Association for Female Executives has named General Mills as one of the top 10 firms for women leaders. General Mills made the list because the company’s top five earners are women.

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You naturally expect people to show up for work on time. But you could get into trouble if you don’t have a written policy saying so. Having written rules makes it more likely employees will understand your expectations.

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Not everyone who has a learning disability or even mild retardation is disabled. Under the ADA, every disability is measured by the individual’s condition and whether or not the condition he claims is disabling substantially impairs a major life function. Thus, someone with minor intellectual deficits may not be disabled under the ADA.

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Two Minnesota icons have been named to Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Employees claim the Mayo Clinic provides the best possible care for its patients and has the same attitude toward its employees. Food conglomerate General Mills just made the list at No. 99—the magazine cited the company’s expanding infant day care program.

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When an employee believes it’s necessary to end-run a supervisor to complain about potentially illegal conduct, resist the temptation to ignore the complaint. And whatever you do, don’t tell the whistle-blower to take it up with the supervisor.

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In recent years, employees have begun filing more and more “caregiver” or “family responsibility” discrimination lawsuits. No federal or Minnesota law specifically addresses discrimination against caregivers. However, treating employees with caregiving responsibilities differently than other employees may violate various employment laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA, the FMLA and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

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Disabled employees and their employers often disagree about how to accommodate a disability. Employees sometimes mistakenly believe that they’re entitled to the exact accommodation they prefer. That’s just not true. The fact is, an employer has the right to pick the accommodation it prefers—as long as that accommodation is reasonable.

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One of the best ways to guarantee an employee will get her FMLA case in front of a jury is for her boss to mention her use of FMLA leave while discussing termination. The best idea: Have someone neutral from HR deliver the news that the employee is being let go.

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Employers are often confused about how much absenteeism they must allow for employees who haven’t worked long enough to be covered by the FMLA, and who aren’t otherwise entitled to miss work as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The bottom line is that if you treat everyone equally, you can set high attendance expectations—and fire those who don’t meet them.

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Regis Corp., a national hair salon chain based in the Twin Cities, operates numerous outlets under Regis Salons, Cost Cutters, Supercuts, MasterCuts and other brands. CEO Paul Finkelstein was so concerned about the effects of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, he decided to be proactive. But his actions may have violated the NLRA.

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