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

Minneapolis Wrongful Termination Law Blog

Facing ageism in Minnesota workplaces

Age discrimination is a topic that is concerning to both employees and employers in Minnesota. A recent article noted that this type of discrimination may in fact be the biggest challenge that employers will face in the coming years. This is particularly true when one considers the gradual aging of the American workforce, and how long the so-called "baby boomers" will want to work.

The problem, from an employer's standpoint, might be a technology gap. Many employers are embracing the efficiency that a technologically-savvy workplace can bring and, in many cases, that means that workers must be familiar with cutting edge computers, software and other technical applications. Unfortunately, this may not be an area where aging workers excel, or where they have experience. Thus, there may be a technology gap between employers and potential employees.

Former professor settles age discrimination lawsuit

Discrimination can come in many different forms in the workplace. Race and gender discrimination are probably the most commonly known basis for lawsuits, so our readers may not realize that discrimination can also occur based on a worker's age.

According to a recent article, age discrimination is precisely what occurred to a former professor at Minnesota State University at Moorhead. In a lawsuit filed after her termination in 2015, the professor alleged that the university excluded her from another position at the school based on a requirement that the professor said was age restrictive. The article notes that the professor alleged that for the new position that the professor was interested in, the university required a doctorate degree in "women's and gender studies." The professor claimed that such a degree was not available to earn until about 1995. The professor was 63-years-old at the time. While she didn't have the appropriate degree in women's and gender studies, she did have a doctorate degree in philosophy. In addition, she had reportedly taught classes in the area of women's and gender studies for approximately 20 years.

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.

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