The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

A federal court has refused to expand the FMLA, rejecting an employee’s attempt to force automatic FMLA leave for a serious health condition allegedly caused by her employer.

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Faced with falling revenue, the counties that fund the Great River Regional Library System last year implemented what they hoped would be cost-saving measures. The unwanted results: Two age-discrimination lawsuits, the unionization of library managers, higher unemployment comp costs and spiraling legal fees.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected a retaliation lawsuit that alleged reverse discrimination at Capella University, the nationwide online institution of higher learning based in Minneapolis.

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A supposedly confidential sexual harassment complaint has become an election issue in the Dodge County sheriff’s race. An employee in the sheriff’s office claims she was sexually harassed by current Sheriff Jim Trihey.

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Train supervisors and managers on situations that could trigger the FMLA leave determination process. The best approach is to suggest they notify HR if an employee calls in sick and implies anything more than “I’m sick today.” If the employee provides any detail that makes it seem likely he or a family member is suffering from a serious health condition, he should be referred to HR to determine if he’s eligible for FMLA leave.

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Some employees are under the mistaken impression that if they complain about anything bad that happens at work, their employer can’t do anything to them, no matter what the circumstances. They think that anything negative the employer does after they complain must be retaliation. Fortunately, that’s not true.

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If you’re deciding whether to fire an employee for attendance problems (under a no-fault attendance policy, for example), you must make sure you aren’t counting FMLA leave against her. However, all is not lost if you accidentally add in an FMLA absence—as long as you can show you still would have fired the employee because of other attendance problems.

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An employee who requests accommodations can sue for retaliation if he can show that his employer punished him for making the request.

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Here’s good news for employers that want to accommodate employees who say they’re disabled, even if it’s not clear they actually are. If you make the accommodations, the employee can’t sue you for regarding her as disabled if it turns out she isn’t really disabled. That means you can safely agree to an accommodation without fearing a lawsuit later.

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It’s not often an employer wins a case against the EEOC, but Hibbing Taconite has convinced a federal jury in Duluth that it did not discriminate against a deaf job applicant. James Edstrom, of Eveleth, applied for truck driver and equipment operator positions at Hibbing Taconite. Surprise! Iron Range firm wins EEOC ADA case It’s […]

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