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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

The Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA) is designed to protect Minnesota employees who are punished for reporting company practices they believe are illegal. It’s not HR’s job to determine whether anything illegal occurred. However, when an employee has blown the whistle on a company practice, HR must make sure any future discipline is warranted and not driven by an ulterior motive …

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Sheila Smith, a former transport aide in the emergency room at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, filed an EEOC lawsuit alleging she suffered discrimination and retaliation because she is black. The court found that while the comments made about her  were “abhorrent,” they were made by co-workers, not supervisors, and did not rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment …

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If you discharge an employee who has been moonlighting, and he or she continues to work on the side, the moonlighting income may make the former employee ineligible for unemployment compensation …

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To make a severance agreement involving older workers stick, employers have to follow the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). The law prohibits releases of Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) claims unless the agreement meets very specific requirements …

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A potential merger at Delta and Northwest airlines is on hold while pilots try to work out a seniority agreement. The proposed merger is complicated by the fact that Atlanta-based Delta has a younger work force than Northwest, which is based in Eagan …

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You can punish employees who abuse computer use as long as you do so consistently. But recognize that some abuses are obviously worse than others. Someone who spends company time bidding on eBay may be due a reprimand. But someone who forwards risqué or racist jokes should receive more severe discipline, up to and including discharge …

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Assistant Attorney General Amy Lawler says she was suspended for speaking out in favor of a union movement in the attorney general’s office. But Attorney General Lori Swanson’s administration says Lawler was put on leave in March only because she had failed to follow the proper channels in raising ethics concerns …

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Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken has agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to the state of New York for failing to carry workers’ compensation for almost three years. The fine was levied in August 2006 after a web site supporting incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman reported that Franken had not paid the insurance on his personal corporation …

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When Minnesota’s ban on smoking in restaurants and bars took effect in October, some astute restaurateurs noted it provided an exception for actors, who may light up during performances. Since then, about 30 establishments have made productions of themselves, printing up playbills, posting “Stage Entrance” and “Props Dept.” signs, and generally making merry …

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Employers that can’t get workers’ compensation insurance in the private insurance market can get coverage through the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Assigned Risk Plan (MWCARP). To get the coverage, an employer typically pays a small estimated premium …

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