The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

An employee who has been discharged may go looking for some underlying reason other than poor performance to explain why she got the ax. And she may suddenly remember incidents that now seem awfully a lot like sexual harassment. Your best defense to such charges is a robust harassment and discrimination policy that tracks every complaint.

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If your counter service employees share tips customers leave in a tip jar, how you divvy up the money is important. A new case makes it clear that those tips must be counted at the end of each shift and shared among the employees who worked that shift.

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If you’re looking to remedy past discrimination by adopting employment policies that encourage minority hiring, watch out! You may be vulnerable to a reverse discrimination lawsuit. That may be true even if your policies resulted from a court order to address discrimination.

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Most employers have policies in place to prevent or stop sexual harassment by supervisors and co-workers. Today, that isn’t enough. The reality is that you must also protect employees from customer or client harassment. Unless your sexual harassment policy addresses such harassment, you may find yourself facing a jury trial.

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You have to handle plenty of serious employee gripes about benefits and harassment. But as shown by a new CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 HR pros and hiring managers, you also have had to deal with some truly offbeat complaints. Some highlights:

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A federal court hearing a Minnesota case has concluded that the amendments to the ADA that were enacted in 2008 are not retroactive. That means you don’t have to worry that employees will sue over alleged violations that occurred before the amendments were passed …

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Employees sometimes think taking FMLA leave—or even just asking for the time off—protects them from being disciplined or discharged. Not so. Employers are free to discipline or discharge employees if they can show they would have taken the same action even if the employee never asked for or received FMLA leave.

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One good way to eliminate discrimination lawsuits is to have the same manager who hired an employee also handle the termination if you need to let the employee go.

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Here’s a wage-and-hour problem that may trip up Minnesota employers: Employees who have to pay their own travel expenses may end up making less than minimum wage. Allowing this to happen when the expenses exceed $50 may also violate Minnesota’s prohibition on deducting more than that amount for employee expenses.

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Employees who take their full 12 weeks of FMLA leave and can’t return to work lose their FMLA job protection. But that doesn’t mean they’re not still protected by the ADA. In fact, if an employee who can’t yet return to work asks for a reasonable accommodation—such as additional time off or a reduced schedule until she is ready for full-time work—you should consider the request.

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