John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Minneapolis Wrongful Termination Law Blog

Voting rights and time off in Minnesota workplaces

The 2016 presidential election has garnered a great deal of attention, both in the media and otherwise. No matter which candidate you support, the important thing is that on election day you get out and vote for your preferred candidate. Indeed, voting rights are some of the most important rights in our nation.

Employees in Minnesota may find, however, that they must take time off of work to exercise their right to vote. They may wonder whether their employer can refuse to let them to do so, or can dock their wages for taking time off to vote. However, Minnesota law protects employees in such situations.

6 things nurses should do if sexually harassed

Despite having policies against it, the workplace sees far too many incidents of sexual harassment, many of which go unreported. As a nurse, you are probably concerned about harassment from two fronts: your co-workers and your patients. Many nurses admit that most of them go through sexual harassment at some point in their career, but that doesn't mean this behavior is acceptable or should be tolerated.

These are six steps every nurse should follow if sexually harassed at work:

Defining sexual harassment in the workplace

One might think that these days, with all the awareness out there about sexual harassment in the workplace, is not a big issue anymore. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is still an issue, and it is more than just men harassing women. Sexual harassment can occur between any two co-workers. Men can harass women, women can harass men, men can harass men and women can harass women.

The Minnesota Human Rights Act provides the state's legal definition of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes sexual comments or physical acts, requests to commit sexual acts or unwanted sexual advances, if one of three conditions are met. The first condition is if submitting to the sexual conduct or communication is done as either an explicit or implicit condition of being hired. The second condition is if either submitting to or rejecting the sexual communication or conduct factors into decisions by others that have some sort of effect on the victim's employment. The third condition is if the sexual communication or conduct is done or has the effect of substantially affecting the victim's job or creates a hostile working environment.

Former Minnesota Ph.D. student claims sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can occur between co-workers, but it can also occur between a worker and another worker in a position of authority. In either case, however, sexual harassment is not just unwanted, but it may be illegal.

A researcher who, along with the University of Minnesota, were defendants in a student's sexual harassment case, was denied qualified immunity by a federal court, which upheld an earlier court ruling. The plaintiff in this case was a Ph.D. candidate in the field of wildlife management and natural resources. According to her, in 2011 during a research trip in Alaska, the researcher, who at that point was an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and served as her mentor, engaged in acts of sexual harassment. The plaintiff claims he told her he wanted to kiss her and took photos of her buttocks. He reportedly encouraged her to imbibe in alcoholic drinks and said they should share a tent. She denied his requests.

How does the EEOC process claims of workplace discrimination?

Our last post covered the protections the Minnesota Human Rights Act provides workers against discrimination. As discussed, a worker can choose whether to file a claim with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Today we are going to explore what happens after a worker files a claim with the EEOC.

First of all, the EEOC will provide the worker with a copy of the worker's charge, along with the corresponding charge number. The worker's employer will also be given this information, within 10 days. After that, the EEOC will take one of three actions.

Minnesota Human Rights Act protects workers from discrimination

Being discriminated against in the workplace can be humiliating, stressful and can cause severe emotional distress. Because of this, both the state of Minnesota and the federal government have laws prohibiting workplace discrimination.

Per the Minnesota Human Rights Act, it is not legal for employers to commit discriminatory acts against employees based on a variety of factors, including the employee's sex, marital status, religion, creed, color, national origin, race, sexual orientation, disability or age. When it comes to age discrimination, Minnesota law protects employees under 40 years old, which is important as federal law only protects workers over 40 years old. In addition, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, unlike federal law, applies to employers of all sizes.

$50,000 settlement reached in Minnesota pay discrimination case

It may seem like in this day and age, it is recognized that men and women should be paid equally if they do equal work. However, that doesn't stop some employers from unlawfully using job classification as a means for paying a female employee less than a male employee, even if the two have the same job duties.

Following a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation, a Minnesota school district and a former female employee of the school district have reached a settlement in an equal pay discrimination claim in which the employee will receive $50,000 will have her position reclassified.

Workers do not have to put up with disability discrimination

Many workers in Minnesota with disabilities are still able to perform a wide variety of jobs. They should not be discriminated against, be denied work opportunities or denied work altogether, just because they have a disability. Unfortunately, instances of discrimination occur on an all too frequent basis.

Employers might fire a worker because the worker needs to seek treatment for his or her disability. Employers may refuse to provide a disabled worker with a reasonable accommodation. Employers may not recognize that some disabilities are mental, not physical. These, and other acts of discrimination, are illegal, but that doesn't stop them from happening.

What is the minimum wage in Minnesota?

Minnesota residents are hard workers, and because of that, they deserve an appropriate amount of pay. It is for this reason that Minnesota has set a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The Minnesota minimum wage amount differs based on several conditions.

If a person works for a large employer, the minimum wage in Minnesota is $9.50 per hour. A large employer is an enterprise with a yearly gross dollar volume of sales made or business done amounting to at least $500,000. If a person works for a small employer, the minimum wage in Minnesota is $7.75. A small employer is an enterprise with a yearly gross dollar volume of sales made or business done amounting to under $500,000. For workers under 18-years-old who are not covered by the federal minimum wage law, the minimum wage in Minnesota is $7.75, as it is for those with a J-1 visa.

Your rights at work: 4 facts about Muslim prayer

Taking breaks at work can be challenging, especially when you work in a production line environment. So what do you do if you are Muslim and need to observe the five daily prayers while on the job? Recent news has highlighted instances where Muslim employees faced tensions from their employer when trying to fit prayer into their work day, feared discrimination or even left a job that would not accommodate their prayer times. Here are rights you have under federal law, specifically Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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
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