John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
612-217-4988 877-390-4527

Minneapolis Wrongful Termination Law Blog

Can whistleblower protections help when ERISA violations occur?

There are many employees in Minnesota who are placed in a position of trust, none more so than those who are responsible for taking care of other people's money. Workers who manage pension accounts are subject to the protections of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, also known as "ERISA." But, when ERISA violations occur, can whistleblower protections help?

The short answer is "yes," those who report violations of ERISA will be protected by the appropriate whistleblower protection provisions. But, what constitutes an ERISA violation?

Facing sexual orientation discrimination in Minnesota

When most people think of discrimination occurring in the workplace, they probably think of discrimination based on race, gender or disability. Some people may not realize that workers in Minnesota may also face discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

While LGBT rights have come a long way in recent years, there is still work to be done. Discrimination based on sexual orientation can be more discrete than other forms of discrimination. Since there sometimes aren't any outward signs of a person's sexual orientation, like there is with race or gender, there may only be a few people in the workplace who are aware of the fact that a person is gay. But, if those people are in management positions, they may use that knowledge to engage in discriminatory conduct.

EEOC could see changes under new presidential administration

Many of our readers likely saw the news a few weeks ago about President Trump submitting his first budget to Congress. There were many different aspects of the proposed budget that were applauded or criticized. However, in general, there is quite a bit of funding cuts and administrative changes proposed.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that investigates employment discrimination, is one agency that might be seeing some changes, if certain parts of President Trump's proposed budget are enacted into law. The biggest change for the EEOC, according to one recent report, would be to merge the agency with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which is part of the Department of Labor. The reports indicate that a total savings of $17 million could result from combining the two agencies.

What is an employer’s duty to accommodate disabled employees?

There are hundreds of ways that we as people can suffer a disability, but that does not mean that we have to cease working. Since 1990, Americans have enjoyed the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which compels employers to make reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability so that they can remain in the workforce.

However, the law provides some relief for employers as well, noting that "reasonable accommodations" must not place an "undue burden" on an employer. This can become a bit of a legal grey area, because both of these terms have an intentional amount of room for interpretation.

Fighting age discrimination in Minnesota

When employees in Minnesota have years of experience at their job, many employers will view that as a valuable resource. These employees know how the business works, they know who to contact in certain situations and they can pass on that knowledge as they train new employees. However, as is true in other situations involving race, gender or disabilities, it is not unheard of for some employers to discriminate against employees based on their age.

Some people might not think of age discrimination as a common problem in the American workforce. This type of discrimination can be more subtle than other types of discrimination, and those who are the victims of age discrimination may not realize it until well after the fact. But, when employees in Minnesota are the victims of age discrimination, they should know that they may have rights under employment law.

Affirmative action and discrimination

Affirmative action can be a pretty hot topic, politically speaking. However, while there may be a growing acceptance of affirmative action, the reality is that many people in Minnesota and elsewhere probably still don't know too much about this policy and how it can come into play when employment discrimination occurs.

Affirmative action, in general, is all about promoting equal opportunities for Americans of all races and genders. Advocates for the positive aspects of affirmative action will note that there are still some pretty glaring differences in how Americans of different races or genders are paid. For instance, one statistic states that African American men make only about three-fourths of what Caucasian men make in similar types of employment. The gap in median household income between African American and Caucasian households is fairly wide as well. That is where affirmation action comes into the picture.

Fox News faces even more claims of employment discrimination

Our readers may remember a recent post here that addressed some of the ongoing sexual harassment issues that media giant Fox News is experiencing, primarily involving former employee Bill O'Reilly. But, it appears that O'Reilly isn't the only person who worked at the news network that may have been involved in this type of illegal employment discrimination. According to a recent report, three women are suing the network itself for illegal discrimination.

In addition to sexual discrimination, two of the women are also alleging race discrimination occurred at Fox News. With these three women joining currently pending discrimination litigation against the network, there is a total now of 26 employees and former employees who have filed lawsuits against Fox News.

What is sexual harassment according to the EEOC?

If people are careful, the term "sexual harassment" isn't thrown around lightly in the workplace. After all, accusing a co-worker or manager of sexual harassment could result in disciplinary action, or even termination of employment. But, the fact is that sexual harassment, unfortunately, still occurs in workplaces throughout the country, and in Minnesota. When an employee brings a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is likely to get involved at some point. So, what is sexual harassment, according to the EEOC?

The reality is that even the EEOC can't put a strict definition on what exactly constitutes sexual harassment. However, the agency does provide some examples: unwanted sexual advances; offensive sexual comments; and unwanted physical sexual contact. But, the EEOC provides an important caveat: these types of incidents may not rise to the level of sexual harassment if they are a one-time thing. The EEOC says that the harassment at issue can rise to the level of being illegal sexual harassment if the conduct is frequent or severe, and it results in a hostile work environment.

Teacher files lawsuit alleging race discrimination

Discrimination is still a major problem in American society. Some Minnesota residents believe they experience discrimination because of their religion. For others, it is their disability. But, for millions of people in this country, race discrimination is their biggest concern. When this type of discrimination occurs in the workplace, employee rights come into play.

According to a recent report, a teacher in Minnesota has alleged that he was the victim of race discrimination by his former employer, Saint Paul Public Schools. The teacher has filed a lawsuit based on the allegations, which he believes stem from his critical opinion of a policy in the school system to "discipline black students less severely than white students."

Complying with the requirement of "reasonable accommodation"

Most employers in Minnesota do their best to stay in compliance with all state and federal employment laws. But, there are some employers who don't meet this burden. Instead, they may engage in some type of employment discrimination. Disability discrimination is one example. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide "reasonable accommodation" to disabled employees. Of course, that term is a bit subjective. What exactly is a "reasonable accommodation" for a worker in Minnesota who has a disability?

Well, employers aren't required to do anything and everything to accommodate an employee who has a disability, but they are required to take certain steps that would make it possible for the employee to do their job with the employer. For instance, an employer may need to make part of the work facility easier to access for the disabled employee. Or, the employer might need to make slight alterations to work schedules to make it possible for the employee to make it to work on time.

Defending the Civil Rights of Vulnerable People

When employers discriminate or allow harassment and retaliation to take place or continue, we are dedicated to holding them accountable for their unlawful actions.

John A. Klassen, PA
Attorneys at Law
310 4th Avenue South     
Suite 5010      
Minneapolis, MN 55415     
Phone: 612-217-4988
Toll Free: 877-390-4527
Fax: 612-204-4534
Map and Directions