The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

One of the worst things you can do after you terminate an employee is change the reason for ending the employment relationship. Instead, decide on a defensible rationale—a performance problem or rule violation, for example, or perhaps a business downturn—and document that decision and all the supporting evidence.

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Here’s a common mistake that even the most experienced HR pro could make: An employee submits an ADA reasonable accommodations request that lists a serious-sounding condition as the disability that should be accommodated. Without further investigation, you start talking about possible accommodations. If that’s your approach, you’re missing out on an opportunity to delve deeper into whether the employee is, in fact, disabled under the ADA.

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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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The recession is taking a heavy toll on Minnesota jobs, and the state’s 8.8% unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Duluth and St. Cloud had the highest unemployment rate in the state—9.8%. The nationwide unemployment rate was 8.1%.

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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 your company franchises operations in Minnesota, you probably aren’t responsible if a franchisee’s employees are injured—even if you conduct an annual safety inspection.

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A minor schedule change to accommodate medical restrictions isn’t retaliation.

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For more than a decade, Minnesota courts have recognized a person’s right to privacy. Most employers are aware that this right extends to the workplace, but many still run into potential employee-privacy trouble. But with some upfront planning and consideration, HR professionals can help their organizations avoid privacy pitfalls and still protect their interests.

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A bill before the Minnesota Legislature would allow the state to suspend prevailing wage requirements on state-funded construction projects if November budget projections show a 1% or greater deficit. State prevailing wage legislation is patterned after the federal Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federally funded construction projects to pay the “prevailing wage” for specific job classifications.

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