The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Here’s a reminder for all your supervisors and managers when they are interviewing and selecting potential employees. Tell them they must never promise a job before getting approval. Doing so may mean a lawsuit if the applicant relies on the promise to his detriment.

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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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When you settle a lawsuit involving discrimination or some other employment matter, you typically want that to be the end of it. But what if the former employee applies for an open position? Avoid a second lawsuit by including a condition in the settlement that bars the employee from ever seeking employment with the company again.

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Employees who take FMLA leave are entitled to their former jobs or equivalent ones when they return to work. But sometimes employers that operate many locations move employees around to cover for the employee on FMLA leave. They may not want to move those employees again. Can the returning employee be assigned to another location?

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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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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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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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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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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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