The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 11
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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Employees terminated for dishonesty aren’t entitled to unemployment compensation benefits. And being dishonest can involve breaking company rules to gain an advantage even if there’s no direct theft involved. Just be sure that before you terminate the worker for breaking the rule, you document the incident and can explain why you believe she acted dishonestly.

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Sometimes, applicants don’t know how much money to ask for. That’s especially true if their target employer isn’t open about salary ranges or how much it is willing to pay for a particular job. What should you do if an applicant is asking for less money than the position potentially pays?

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Make sure that any entity you hire to conduct fitness-for-duty exams understands their responsibility to exclude genetic information requests from the determination. Otherwise, you may be liable for Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act violations. The employee doesn’t have to add the providers to the lawsuit.

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Most employers are aware that certain dress and grooming practices generally must be accommodated in the workplace.

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Q. We have a workforce that largely works remotely, some hundreds of miles from our corporate office. For a variety of reasons, we will be reclassifying a number of these individuals from independent contractor status to employees. Given that we will need I-9s for the employees, do we need to personally see the required identification documents, or can the employees send us facsimiles/scans, etc.? If we need to see the forms personally, what is the best way to do that?

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Here’s a tip that can help you streamline the hiring process if you reasonably believe you will have a large number of applicants. Instead of listing preferred qualifications, include a longer list of required ones. That way, you should be able to whittle down the applicant list to those candidates closest to your ideal candidates.

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The University of Minnesota at Duluth is still reeling from discrimination charges after it failed to renew hockey coach Shannon Miller’s contract. Miller and three of her coaches, all of whom are openly gay, were terminated.

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For a time, it seemed as if employers were losing every class-action lawsuit filed by hungry lawyers on behalf of one or two named employees. It almost became a legal cottage industry. But now courts are losing patience with some of these lawsuits—especially when the attorneys get sloppy.

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When announcing a termination, make sure no one says anything that’s potentially defamatory. Keep the announcement professional and don’t make gratuitous comments, no matter the reason. Tell only those who need to know why the firing happened.

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A black teacher is suing for race discrimination after she was fired from her job at Park Center High School in Osseo, Minn.—after she complained about race discrimination.

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The Target retail chain has agreed to stop using three pre-employment assessments that the EEOC claimed were discriminatory.

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On Labor Day, President Obama signed the latest in a string of executive orders applicable to employers that contract with the federal government. Executive Order 13706 will permit certain employees working on federal contracts to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. According to a White House fact sheet, the new paid leave mandate will affect approximately 300,000 workers … and imposes substantial new obligations on many employers.

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It is critical to prevent sexual harassment—especially when a supervisor is involved—instead of relying on your post-harassment policy to block lawsuits. The University of Minnesota just learned that the hard way.

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A registered nurse claims North Memorial Health Care in Robbinsdale, Minn., withdrew its employment offer after she requested a religious accommodation. The woman is a Seventh-day Adventist and had sought a schedule that would not force her to work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

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If it stands, a recent federal court decision could provide some clarity for Minnesota employers.

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Minnesota employers have to walk through a minefield in order to terminate someone. Consider, for example, what might happen if the newly discharged employee asks for a written explanation of her termination. Offer one that’s less than honest, and you may be violating Minnesota’s Section 181.933.

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Q. An employee’s daughter has diabetes and the employee has intermittent leave to provide assistance and care for her. The employee is now using FMLA leave to attend her daughter’s field hockey games and practices, claiming she needs to be there in case of diabetic complications during athletic events. The health care certification that we received in connection with this FMLA leave request does refer to a need to provide care during “flare ups.” Do we have to continue to permit the mother to attend the games and practices as intermittent FMLA leave?

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Working overtime can be an essential job function. If disabled employees can’t work overtime, you may not have to accommodate them.

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Rest easy: You can talk about an employee’s pregnancy while also discussing discipline against her. As long as you make it clear that you are disciplining the employee because of issues that have nothing to do with her pending childbirth, mentioning pregnancy while discussing potential penalties won’t make you lose a discrimination suit.

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Some workers who learn they’re about to be disciplined or even fired for poor behavior may try to use an alleged disability as an excuse. But if they never revealed before that they have a disability, it’s too late to try that tactic on the eve of being punushed.

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