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Minneapolis Employment Law Blog

Minnesota law helps protect employee rights

Just like employers all around the country, businesses in Minnesota must follow a strict set of standards when it comes to hiring and firing workers. Many workers may feel as though they know the employment law standards to which companies are held, but there are common questions that most people have.

First, contrary to popular belief, an employee is not required to give two weeks' notice before leaving a job, and neither is an employer who wishes to end a worker's employment. The two week notice period is a professional courtesy, not a law. When it comes to terminations, law dictates that employers must give the fired employee a truthful reason for the action, with some caveats. The employee, if not told why the termination occurred, must file a request for a reason in writing within 15 days. The employer then has 10 days to respond in writing.

Severance agreements for Minnesota employees

When an employee is eliminated from his or her position, an employer may offer a severance package, also known as a severance agreement. In general, these packages include financial compensation in exchange for an agreement to not bring a legal action against the organization. If no agreement is put in place or the employee does not agree to the package, there is nothing that prevents them from filing suit against their previous employer for wrongful termination or similar claims.

There are no state or federal laws that govern how a severance package should be set up, so it is up to the employee and employer to determine the terms of an agreement. However, it is common for severance pay and associated benefits to be based on how long an individual was with the company and the company's current financial situation.

Woman successful in pay discrimination lawsuit against Royal Tire

On July 31, a Minnesota court ruled that a woman who spent five years as the HR director for Royal Tire Inc. was underpaid in her position due to her sex. The woman was paid $35,000 less annually than the man who had previously held her job and $19,000 less than the amount the company listed as its own minimum for the position. The company will be fined $182,500 and must also comply with the terms of a consent decree.

The woman held the position from 2006 to 2011. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she attempted to resolve the issue by working with the company itself but was unsuccessful.

Chris Kluwe reaches settlement with Vikings

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and his former employer reached a settlement according to the National Journal. As part of the settlement of the lawsuit in which the player had claimed that he had been wrongfully terminated for his public support of same-sex marriage, the Vikings will donate money to five LGBT charities for the next five years. Two of the charities that will receive a donation are the Matthew Shepard Foundation and You Can Play.

The other three charities were not revealed as they have not been told that they will be receiving the funds. In addition to the donations, the Vikings also suspended their special teams coach for three games. The suspension came after it was determined that he had made anti-gay remarks in his capacity as a coach. He was also ordered to undergo sensitivity training.

Food Lion sued for religious discrimination

Minnesota workers who are concerned with workplace rights and religious expression may be interested in a case involving Food Lion. The supermarket chain has been sued in connection with circumstances surrounding an employee who requested scheduling considerations so that he could comply with his religious beliefs and practices. The employee reportedly asked not to be scheduled on Sundays and Thursday nights because of the need to attend Jehovah's Witness church services and meetings.

Reports indicate that the request was honored when the employee first began to work for the companyy in a Winston-Salem location. Upon transfer to a location in Kernsville, however, the manager allegedly refused to honor the request, firing the man because of his being unavailable for work on Sundays. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit for workplace discrimination on Aug. 20, seeking back pay and other losses on behalf of the man. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides for employees with sincerely held religious beliefs to be given consideration where undue hardship isn't created for the employer.

Underpaid LinkedIn employees to receive wages, damages

Many individuals in Minnesota may be LinkedIn users, but they may not be aware the company must pay wages and damages to workers in four states. Most of the 359 workers who were not correctly compensated for hours worked, including overtime, were part of the sales department.

LinkedIn has blamed the error on a lack of tools appropriate for managers and employees to track hours and says that they were already working on the problem before the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Aug. 4 that the company would be required to pay a total of $6 million, including $2.52 million in damages and $3.35 million in overtime.

Man with disability sues Target for discrimination

Minnesota workers might be interested in the case of a man who filed a lawsuit against Target. The suit claims the disabled man faced racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The plaintiff started working for Target in 1993 at stores in Houston. The suit was filed in a district court in Texas, and he asks for front pay, actual damages, punitive and compensatory damages, reinstatement, and payment of all attorney fees and court costs.

The plaintiff notes he suffers from dyslexia and autism, and his mobility is impaired by surgical rods implanted in his back. However, the suit says he has always been able to do the work given to him. However, he alleges that his coworkers discriminated against him because he was white. Specifically, he says he was given menial jobs, and his work schedule was changed frequently even though it caused him significant difficulty. He reported the discriminatory acts and harassment by coworkers and supervisory personnel to the department of human resources of the company. This allegedly made things worse, and he was made the target of ridicule and false accusations.

McDonald's to fight decision over employer classification

Labor advocates in Minnesota and around the country might be monitoring developments relating to a series of complaints against McDonald's franchises being considered by the National Labor Relations Board. The board ruled on July 29 that the fast food company could be named as a joint employer in the complaints. McDonald's has long held that their restaurant franchises are independently run businesses. They say that the parent company should not be involved in disputes relating to such matters as wage and overtime laws.

A McDonald's representative said that the company would contest the ruling, but labor leaders say that the company has a great deal of influence over how its franchises are run. An example of this came to light in March 2014 after fast food workers in three states filed lawsuits. McDonald's software used to monitor labor costs was shown to prevent workers from clocking in if labor cost to sales percentage ratios were too high.

Former NFL player filing suit against Vikings

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is planning to move ahead with a lawsuit claiming that he was released after exposing anti-gay comments that were allegedly made by the Vikings special teams coach. According to the suit, at least one other player remembers the coach making the comments that suggested that gays should be rounded up and killed.

The Vikings reportedly investigated the coach and compiled a 150-page report that Kluwe says his attorney will ask to see in full. According to reports, there is evidence in the document to suggest that the coach acknowledged making the comments and that he would not disagree with the allegation if another player says that he heard those words. According to the Vikings report, the special teams coach gave the punter the highest grade out of all the player evaluators on the team.

Former administrator files claim against county

A former county administrator in Minnesota has added a new claim against his former employer. According to the former administrator, he was the victim of wrongful termination.

The Winona County Board of Commissioners fired the man in May after an external investigation implicated him in being improperly involved in a potential solar-energy project. The investigation found that his wife worked for the company that was proposing the project and he did not share this information. He asked for permission to speak publicly before the board about the termination. However, the process was pulled from the agenda at the hearing when he was supposed to speak due to legal concerns.

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