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Minneapolis Employment Law Blog

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.

Tipped employees could be paid less than minimum wage

Restaurant workers may be interested to know that Minnesota is one of only seven states where tipped employees are paid full minimum wage. In 19 other states, employers are allowed to pay a bartender or server as little as $2.13 per hour before gratuity. If the server's tips don't boost their pay up to the state minimum wage, then the employee is given a 'tip credit" to make up the difference.

Right now, tipped workers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area earn an average of $22 per hour from a combination of regular wages and gratuity. If the Minnesota Restaurant Association is successful in its campaign for a 'tipped employee tier", that average won't change with a higher state minimum wage. The tier would put a limit on tipped employee's wages that would be added to the state's wage laws. Rather than the $9.50 an hour minimum wage all employees are expected to receive by 2016, tipped employees would earn $8.

Options to void noncompete clauses in Minnesota

A noncompete clause is an agreement between an employer and an employee that limits where an employee can work if he or she leaves the company. Such a clause could bar an employee from working in a certain field, for a certain company or for any company in a given region. In addition, it may also specify how long the employee must wait before accepting a new job.

While such clauses have become more popular with employers, employees may be able to have a noncompete clause invalidated in court. If a judge decides that the clause is too broad, it could be struck down or modified. In many cases, simply taking a former employer to court could be enough to get the employer to negotiate more favorable terms for someone who is looking to move on in his or her career.

Employment law jurisdiction on Native American lands

Minnesota residents who work for an employer on an Indian reservation may be interested in an article discussing whether federal and state employment law protections apply to them. The answer is not simple, and greatly depends on the location of the reservation and the particular law in question.

Because Native American reservations are sovereign nations, they are more akin to a foreign country than a part of a U.S. state. Generally, this means that employment laws do not apply to tribal governments and businesses. There are some laws, such as Title VII's anti-discrimination law, that were written specifically to exempt Native American tribes. The WARN Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act do not apply to tribal governments either.

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