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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

If an employer has a process in place for reporting wrongdoing that includes bypassing one’s supervisor when necessary, employees who don’t take that step can’t aviod punishment by blaming the supervisor. That’s not a justified excuse.

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The ADA requires employers to consider transfer to open positions as reasonable accommodations for disabled workers. But what if an employee isn’t qualified for any open full-time positions? A part-time position may suffice.

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An employee may claim that the stress of having a difficult boss creates a mental disability such as major depression. She can ask for another supervisor as a reasonable accommodation—but employers don’t have to grant it.

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We all knew schoolyard bullies, and, if we were lucky, they left us alone. Sadly, research indicates many workers are targets of “workyard” bullies. And workplace bullying comes with significant costs.

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If you rejected an applicant early in the hiring process because he or she didn’t meet your stated minimum requirements, but then hired someone else who also didn’t meet them, then the rejected applicant may have a potential discrimination lawsuit.

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When an employee is fired for violating the terms of a noncompete, he won’t receive unemployment compensation because he committed willful act of wrongdoing, which bars benefits. It doesn’t matter if the employee’s supervisor was involved in the breach.

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A state court has issued an injunction exempting employers that are not based in Minneapolis from having to comply with the Minneapolis paid sick leave ordinance.

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A bill before the Minnesota legislature would establish a lower bar for sexual harassment victims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act than the one required to file claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

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Minnesota employers are stuck in the middle of the battle between state and federal law. The tension may create confusion for employers trying to legally enforce their policies, including drug-free workplace policies.

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A federal court has refused to certify a wage-and-hour class-action lawsuit. The crux of the case: Minnesota’s unique rules requiring employees to be paid for breaks of less than 20 minutes.

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Employees who are fired for refusing to work can’t collect unemployment benefits. Failing to work is considered willful misconduct.

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When a customer harasses an employee, the employer may be held liable for allowing a hostile work environment if it knew about the potential problem. However, the employee has a responsibility to report the incident.

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When Minnesota public employees are reinstated following arbitration of a disciplinary case, the employer may still move to prevent reinstatement under the concept of public policy interest. That’s especially true for law enforcement employees accused of using excessive force.

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To win a retaliation case, the worker would have to prove that the discipline was motivated by a desire to punish him or her for making the report. That’s unlikely to succeed if 1) the discipline began before the safety problem was reported or 2) it is clear that any other worker would have been disciplined for the same rule violation.

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Be careful how you react when an employee announces she is expecting. In the end, the employer won this pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, but defending against it cost huge legal fees and took up hundreds of hours.

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Here’s an important warning for managers with the power to influence hiring decisions: Repeating stereotypes about applicants invites discrimination lawsuits, as a recent case shows.

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The bookkeeper for Farm Mercantile in Fairfax, Minn., faces five charges of filing false tax returns because she failed to report $266,333 in embezzled income. In all, she allegedly pocketed $535,000 from the hardware and farm supply store from 1998 to 2016.

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Since Minneapolis’s Safe and Sick Time Ordinance took effect last July, the city has been working with employers to help them comply with the law. For almost a year, the city has levied no fines. That will all end on July 1.

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Last month we reported that former University of Minnesota – Duluth women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller had finally prevailed in a years-long sex discrimination lawsuit. Now two more former employees are alleging the university discriminated against them on the basis of their sexual orientation.

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The U.S. Department of Justice has announced plans to file criminal charges against employers that collude to fix wages or not hire one another’s workers under “nonpoaching agreements.”
As a result, employers are more likely than ever to either have their trade secrets compromised or face liability for knowingly or unknowingly possessing a competitor’s confidential information.

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