The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Here’s a twist on the already complicated matter of accommodating religious practices in the workplace. Employers might assume that if they come up with an accommodation that resolves the conflict, they have done all that’s required. It’s not that simple.

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A new 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case allows employers to use an employee’s FMLA certification as the basis for requesting a fitness-for-duty exam if the certification asserts that the employee can’t perform an essential function of her job. That’s especially true in high-pressure professions when an alleged FMLA serious health condition affects an employee’s ability to function while at work.

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When an employee complains about sexual harassment, the aftermath can be tough. First, there’s an investigation and the anxiety waiting for a final decision. Co-workers may side with the alleged harasser and shun the complaining employee. How you respond to problems like those may mean the difference between winning a retaliation lawsuit and losing.

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Take every internal discrimination complaint seriously—and take quick action, too. Why? If the employee doesn’t think your response was adequate, an EEOC complaint will probably follow. And that can spell big trouble if the EEOC decides to expand its investigation beyond the specifics of the original complaint.

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Employees who are terminated because they become ill and can’t meet attendance standards can still collect unemployment compensation benefits. But employees terminated because they didn’t follow call-in policies can’t. That’s misconduct, which bars receiving benefits.

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Here’s some good news that will make it easier for employers that want to challenge unemployment compensation claims after firing an employee for misconduct. The HR representative who conducted the investigation can testify about what others said, provided that any written statements are also presented.

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The Minnesota Nurses Association signed a three-year collective bargaining agreement with 14 Twin Cities hospitals on July 6, just days before a strike deadline set by the union. The hospitals had sought the right to “float” registered nurses to any hospital at any time, but eventually backed off that demand and a proposal to modify nurse pensions.

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Minnetonka-based Opus Corp. and its founder, Gerald Rauenhorst, face charges they illegally shifted corporate funds so they wouldn’t have to pay a subsidiary’s employees and fund their pensions.

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Halunen & Associates will not represent any of the plaintiffs in Gifford v. Target Corp., a major class-action overtime suit, after a federal judge ruled that the firm’s previous contact with a Target official may have revealed privileged company information.

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Chad Jurgens of Big Lake will spend the next five years in the big house after admitting to scheming to defraud his employer, computer hard drive manufacturer Seagate Technologies.

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