Employment Law

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The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently gave employers some certainty regarding the state’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act. But that certainty is a double-edged sword.

Q. We recently received a complaint that one of our sales reps had sent false emails and texts about one customer to another. We determined that the emails and texts have been sent from the cell­­phone we provide to the sales rep. We asked the service provider to send us copies of the emails and text messages. The service provider refused our request. Why can’t we get that information?

Many employers assume that the National Labor Relations Ac, enacted over 70 years ago, applies only to unionized workplaces and employees who belong to unions. Not true. In fact, the NLRA covers almost all employees and private employers.

Q. We have several employees who drive commercial motor vehicles. We have heard that there are rules about the use of cellphones by those drivers. How do those rules affect us?

If your severance packages to departing workers include a waiver of future potential lawsuits, that’s a smart strategy. But be aware that small mistakes with severance packages—especially for older workers—can lead to big problems in court.
Before you jump on the independent contractor bandwagon, remember that when challenged, many such arrangements fail to meet legal tests. The more control you assert over so-called independent contractors, the more likely a court will call them employees.
A key portion of the Affordable Care Act health care reform law is the employer play-or-pay provision, also known as the employer mandate. Regulations, which are proposed to become effective for months after Dec. 31, 2013, implement this provision. You may rely on these regs until final regs are issued.
Cliffs Natural Resources and the United Steelworkers have ratified a 37-month labor agreement, retro­active to Sept. 1, 2012. The agreement provides a 4.5% wage increase with an additional bonus of $4,250 per employee.
Minnesota’s quiet winter may become a silent spring if labor disputes continue for two of the state’s premier orchestras. Management teams at both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have locked out musicians after the parties failed to agree on new contracts.
The U.S. Department of Labor has sued two United Steel­­workers of America locals in Ohio over alleged union election irregularities. The DOL wants both April 2012 elections nullified.
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