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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

OSHA is responsible for worker safety, and it takes that responsibility seriously. It recently won a significant victory in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld OSHA’s right to hold contractors liable for their subcontractors’ safety violations.

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Richfield-based electronics retail giant Best Buy is adjusting its business plan in response to the economic downturn. The move will cost 250 jobs in Richfield, but the company plans to hire 210 additional people.

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Employers have to let their employees know about the FMLA so they can take advantage of the leave guaranteed by the law. But if an employee doesn’t take advantage of his FMLA rights, the employer can’t be held liable for not providing leave even if it turns out the employee was eligible.

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In his 25 years on the Minneapolis Fire Department, Thomas Davison fought a series of debilitating health conditions along with the fires he helped put out. He also had to fight the department to obtain health benefits.

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More and more employers are asking their HR staffs to prepare noncompete agreements to prevent employees from taking trade secrets to competitors. Before you pull out a standard form or download one from the Internet, consider the consequences.

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Sometimes, employees think they can save themselves from being disciplined by making a fuss about possible employer wrongdoing. They assume that whistle-blowing will protect them from being fired, for example, because their employer’s timing will look suspect. Smart employers don’t fall for this.

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Minnesota employees are protected from being fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. That means employers have to think twice before discharging such an employee for anything but the most solid reasons.

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Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor claims Minnesota workers’ compensation insurers underpaid benefits by about $3 million last year. An auditor’s report charged in February that insurers frequently reject legitimate claims.

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Employers don’t have to blindly accept their employees’ medical certifications. The FMLA allows you to get a second opinion about whether an employee’s request qualifies for leave … If the two certifications don’t agree, you can get a third and final certification to break the tie. But what happens during the interim?

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have for years predicted that a virulent influenza outbreak could kill tens of thousands, hospitalize hundreds of thousands and sicken millions. Regardless of how the swine flu crisis plays out, it should be a wake-up call for employers. If you haven’t already, now is the time to undertake pandemic planning efforts.

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