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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

A federal court has concluded it doesn’t have the right to disqualify an arbitrator from hearing a case before a decision has been made. It’s another indication that courts aren’t eager to micromanage arbitrations.

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Employees suing under the Equal Pay Act who can prove that they held a substantially similar job but were paid less than a member of the opposite sex don’t have to prove that the employer intended to discriminate.

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An employee who complains about perceived discrimination may be wrong, but filing a complaint still counts as protected activity. If she files an EEOC complaint or a lawsuit, firing her shortly after she complains is just asking for a retaliation claim.

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A federal court has granted a temporary injunction in a case involving continued health insurance coverage. The court concluded that a group of retired workers would likely succeed on the merits of their case.

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The first in-person treatment with a health care professional must take place within seven days of the initial illness or injury that rendered the worker incapable of performing his job. Otherwise, the regulations assume the condition isn’t a serious health condition. Thus, the worker would not be entitled to FMLA leave.

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Sometimes, filing a lawsuit and airing dirty laundry in a public forum can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for an employee. That doesn’t give her the right to bring the case using a pseudonym, a federal court has ruled.

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A federal jury hearing a discrimination lawsuit filed against the University of Minnesota Duluth has awarded $3.7 million to Shannon Miller, the university’s former women’s hockey coach.

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Be sure employees know your rules for leaving work early. That way, an employee who violates the rules will have committed willful misconduct, disqualifying him from receiving unemployment compensation benefits.

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Here’s a warning about turning down an applicant who lists union memberships or otherwise indicated union support on his employment application. Refusing to interview him or turning him down for a job he is qualified to do may backfire.

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Here’s some good news from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals: The court, which covers Minnesota employers, turned down a petition to allow an employee to introduce a new discrimination claim that he failed to clearly outline in his original lawsuit.

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Smart employers make it easy for employees to apply for promotions and make their promotion policies clear. They don’t rely on word-of-mouth or a buddy system to hand out promotions to favorites.

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Despite a changed EEOC position and several victories in other federal circuit courts of appeal, employees alleging sexual orientation discrimination in Minnesota workplaces cannot bring that claim under Title VII. Sexual orientation is not a protected classification under Title VII.

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Do you train employees to treat all customers with respect, regardless of sexual orientation, transgender status and the like? If not, you may be unwittingly creating a hostile environment for some customers, which can mean a lawsuit.

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Employees who receive their EEOC right-to-sue letter have just 90 days to file a federal lawsuit. Advice: Note that deadline as soon as you receive your copy.

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Employees who engage in so-called protected activity under Title VII cannot be retaliated against for doing so. But the definition of protected activity is narrow.

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Employees have up to two years after a request for FMLA leave is denied to file an FMLA interference lawsuit unless the violation was willful.

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Some former employees who sue over alleged discrimination try to discredit their employers’ explanations for discharge. Even so, employers have a great deal of flexibility about how they explain the reason an employee was fired.

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Disability protections under the Minnesota Human Rights Act differ from those set by the ADA. Employers covered only by the MHRA and not the ADA are free to reject a reasonable accommodation request without consulting with the employee.

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Employers that have well-documented business reasons for every discharge typically win lawsuits that allege discrimination. Good records force employees to prove that an allegedly legitimate reason for firing was a pretext for covering up discrimination.

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When a sexual relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate ends, there’s likely to be trouble in the workplace. If the subordinate is complaining about how her former lover is treating her at work, the only safe course of action is to remove the supervisor entirely.

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