The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

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

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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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If you pay employees on a commission basis and allow them to draw against those commissions, be very careful how you word the contract language. If you don’t specify that employees must repay any draws they do not earn back with commissions, they won’t have to.

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Here’s a bit of good news for employers trying to make sure they don’t violate the Fair Labor Standards Act: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that employees—not employers—have the initial burden of showing they actually worked during unpaid lunch or other break periods.

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