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The HR Specialist: Minnesota Employment Law

Marathon Petroleum Corp. has paid a $700,000 fine for dumping benzene, a known carcinogen, into an unlined lagoon near the Mississippi River in 2010. Since the incident, Marathon has sold the facility located in St. Paul Park.

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Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Stores faces 11 safety violations after a machine at its Barron, Wisc., slaughterhouse cut off an employee’s arm.

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The Minneapolis NAACP has leveled charges of discrimination against the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. The group claims board practices are biased against minority employees and city residents.

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Sometimes, a new job doesn’t work out—and the new kid on the block is the first to be let go in a downturn. That’s when his previous employer may be in for a surprise.

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If you use arbitration to resolve disputes, now is a good time to have your attorney review your arbitration agreement. A federal court in Minnesota has recently concluded that a valid arbitration agreement may allow collective-action arbitration, even if the agreement itself never mentions the possibility.

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Employees who commit “aggravated misconduct” and are terminated may not be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits. Therefore, some employers may assume that when an employee is arrested and charged with a felony related to work, it makes sense to fire the employee. Not necessarily.

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When training managers and supervisors on how to treat subordinates, make sure they understand they should never make any belligerent statements that could be interpreted as defamation or slander.

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Under the ADA, employees who claim to be disabled must show that their condition substantially im­­­pairs a major life function. Min­ne­sota has its own version of the law. It requires that employees show their condition materially impairs a major life function. That’s a lower standard, but still a tough one for employees to prove.

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Disabled employees may have trouble doing their jobs without an accommodation. If you simply tell the employee to figure out a way to perform the job and refuse to help find an accommodation, the em­­ployee may quit and apply for unemployment.

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Here’s a reminder for government hiring managers: While ordinarily, such supervisors have qualified immunity, that’s not the case if the decision not to hire is based on an applicant’s political beliefs.

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