The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

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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Because juries are notoriously unpredictable, most attorneys advise doing everything possible to avoid jury trials. Even so, juries often wind up deciding employment law cases because of the subtlety of the issues involved. In the following case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals sent a case to trial so a jury can decide whether taking away an employee’s telecommuting opportunity might be retaliation.

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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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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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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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It’s fairly common for someone accused of sexual harassment to counter that, in reality, he was the one who was being harassed. Then he gives HR a detailed complaint and a lengthy list of people to interview. Don’t let this tactic dissuade you. Instead, complete your investigation just as you would any other.

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