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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Maxim Healthcare Services has agreed to pay $160,000 to the estate of a Minneapolis nurse who died of cancer, ending a tragic case that highlighted the reach of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act.

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Outback Steakhouse has agreed to pay $1.25 million to Minnesota em­­ployees to remedy what servers at the restaurant chain said was an illegal tip-pooling procedure under state law.

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Here’s a small measure of comfort if your company is caught in a hostile environment scandal involving a single division or facility: Employees who sue for discrimination in other departments, divisions or locations can’t use those cases against you in court unless they were directly affected by that particular hostile environment.

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Independent contractors aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation when their services are no longer needed. But just because you sign an agreement that says someone is an independent contractor doesn’t mean he really is.

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Didn’t receive a copy of an EEOC complaint within 300 days of when you discharged an employee? Ordi­­narily, that would mean you could rest easy, knowing that no lawsuit could arise. But that’s not always the case.

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If you want to fire someone for misconduct, here’s a good reason not to drag your feet on it. If the delay is too long between the alleged misconduct and the termination, the employee may get unemployment compensation.

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Employers will win in the long run if they exercise restraint and use patience when dealing with an employee who clearly is looking for a lawsuit. It will take work.

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When it comes to reductions in force, employees on FMLA leave don’t have greater rights than those who haven’t taken FMLA leave. That means if an employer can show it would have chosen the FMLA leave-taker for termination even if she had been at work, there’s no FMLA violation. But employers that are sloppy about the RIF process may end up in court.

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Minnesota-based 3M has agreed to pay $3 million to 290 former em­­ployees to settle an EEOC lawsuit that claimed layoffs in 2003 and 2006 disproportionately targeted workers age 45 and older.

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Before you implement an involuntary reduction in force, make sure you determine whether you’re vul­­nerable to an age discrimination lawsuit. You can do this by seeing what percentage of the workforce was over age 40 before the planned layoff …

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Last year, Electrolux agreed to adjust its break schedule to accommodate Muslim employees working the evening shift at its St. Cloud plant. The EEOC mediated last year’s agreement in a process that was hailed as a model of cooperation between the employer, employees and the federal government. Problem solved, right? Not so fast.

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For the second time since 2009, Product Fabricators is being charged with disability discrimination. Accord­­ing to an EEOC complaint, the Pine City-based sheet metal manufacturer fired an injured employee instead of accommodating him.

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Employees who lie when confronted about wrongdoing are ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits—at least if the lie concerned something about which the employer could reasonably expect the truth.

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Employees placed on performance improvement plans (PIP) sometimes suspect that they are about to be fired. But that doesn’t mean they can jump the gun, quit and apply for unemployment compensation.

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Employees who receive workers’ compensation payments for on-the-job injuries are assumed to have retired when they hit age 67. But a recent lawsuit argued that workers’ comp payments had to continue past that cutoff age because an employer had negotiated a legal settlement that didn’t specify that the payments would end at age 67. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Minnesota has ruled otherwise.

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Here’s an important reminder to pass along to managers and supervisors: Simply dismissing a disabled employee’s request for accommodations is folly unless it is crystal clear that no accommodation is possible.

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Soldiers who take military leave for active service or training are generally entitled to return to their jobs when they finish their military service. They even have protection from being terminated without cause if they served long enough. But USERRA does not protect employees who fail to follow existing company rules when they return or try to return.

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Soldiers who take military leave for active service or training are generally entitled to return to their jobs when they finish their military service. They even have protection from being terminated without cause if they served long enough. But USERRA does not protect employees who fail to follow existing company rules when they return or try to return.

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Employers have the right to ex­­­pect everyone to behave ap­­pro­­pri­­ately at work. That includes employees with mental disabilities who may have trouble with communication and perception. What that means: You are free to punish inappropriate behavior regard­less of its cause.

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Employers know they are supposed to provide their employees with in­­­­for­mation about how to handle discrimination or harassment. Most employers put up a poster on a break room bulletin board to outline the process. This simple practice can prove invaluable when an employee tries to use ignorance as an excuse for not complaining right away.

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