The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

At some point, an unsuccessful job candidate may challenge your decision not to hire him. Then you will have to justify your selection process. The more objective criteria you use, the more likely a court will agree not to second-guess your decision. But if you add subjective elements to the process, you may end up being charged with discrimination.

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The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) makes it an unfair employment practice to terminate an employee based on marital status. The Court of Appeals of Minnesota has now clarified that the law covers more than the state of being married; it also bans discrimination based on who one’s spouse is.

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If you offer short-term disability (STD) benefits for employees who can’t work because of illness, you probably insist on medical documentation. If the employee doesn’t provide that information within the reasonable timeline your STD plan requires, you can count the absence against the employee and terminate her.

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Here’s one thing you don’t have to worry about—the race of the manager terminating another employee. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected the idea that just because the decision-maker happens to be of a different race than the employee being disciplined, there may be racism involved.

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Consider this scenario: An employee lodges a complaint that her sex or race kept her from being promoted. Shortly after, you offer her an opportunity for advancement. She then turns around and sues, alleging that the offer was a sham. Fortunately, courts are rejecting such arguments.

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Don’t expect to get a case tossed out just because the complaint is vague. The fact is, courts are willing to let an employee continue a quest for a big jury award as long as the complaint puts the employer on notice about the essentials, if not the specifics, of the case.

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While Congress ponders the Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, several states are studying ways to target employers that misclassify their employees as independent contractors. Minnesota is part of a joint task force studying the misclassification problem.

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Employees who lose their jobs often think the reason just has to be discrimination. Their first stop after receiving their pink slips: a lawyer’s office. If the resulting lawsuit is meritless, push hard for dismissal.

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Employees who lose their jobs often think the reason just has to be discrimination. Their first stop after receiving their pink slips: a lawyer’s office. If the resulting lawsuit is meritless, push hard for dismissal.

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is stepping up efforts to encourage and support certain types of wage-loss claims by low-income workers. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced in April that the department was rolling out its “We Can Help” campaign to address this issue. If you employ relatively low-wage workers, you need to be aware of this program.

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