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

Reasonable accommodations can prevent disability discrimination

People have the right to try and earn a living and support themselves to the best of their ability. While this may be easy for some Minnesota residents, it is harder for disabled individuals to find jobs for which they are otherwise qualified. Employers may hesitate to employ someone with a disability due to their own misconceptions about their condition, and when they discriminate against someone with a disability, employers violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Per the ADA, employers cannot discriminate against disabled people who are qualified for a position. An employer must provide reasonable accommodation, unless to do so would prove to be an undue hardship. Accommodations refer to changes in the workplace that would allow the affected individual to enjoy equal employment opportunities. This is a statutory requirement because providing an accommodation can remove workplace barriers for individuals with disabilities.

What constitutes harassment in the workplace?

When people think of workplace harassment, many Minnesotans may immediately think of sexual harassment and dismiss other types of comments or jokes as being part of their work culture. As harassment remains unreported, it becomes more of a problem and often ends up creating a workplace where employees do not feel safe or enjoy working. Not only does this affect an employee's productivity, but also their emotional equilibrium.

Workplace harassment is outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with other federal regulations. As per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment can be any unwelcome behavior, either physical or verbal, that is based on color, race, sex, religion, gender, gender identity, nationality, age, physical or mental disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful when putting up with it becomes necessary to continue employment or the conduct is so severe that any reasonable person would conclude that the workplace was abusive, hostile or intimidating. Additionally, if a supervisor's harassment results in a change of status or salary of the employee, it could also be qualified as harassment.

Director of OHFC claims wrongful termination due to retaliation

Getting to the top position at one's employment is difficult for most people, but its often even more difficult for women to get positions of power, for various reasons. Unfortunately, even when women make it to the top they are still subjected to a hostile work environment created by colleagues or subordinates who are not willing to take directions from a woman. Though great strides are being taken to equalize the work and power balance between men and women, the reality is that women are often subjected to harassment and discrimination at most positions and offices.

A lawsuit filed by a former director of the Minnesota department's health regulation division claims she was wrongfully fired after she raised concerns about a hostile work environment. In her lawsuit alleging retaliation, she alleges that she repeatedly informed senior leaders about bullying and harassment in the department she was overlooking. She was berated, reprimanded and ultimately terminated from her position as a result of her complaints. She filed an 11-page written complaint and she was fired three days after filing it, just one day before she was supposed to meet with someone from the Legislative Auditor's Office. At one point, she alleges she was told she lacked the stamina to complete her job because she was a woman.

How do I know if my termination was wrongful?

When someone loses their job, their steady source of income, it is natural to wonder what went wrong or how they could have avoided this situation of sudden unemployment. "Why was I fired?" may be a recurring question, along with the sentiment that one's firing was "unfair", but it is important to understand that unfair may differ from illegal.

Its important to keep in mind that most employer-employee relationships are at will. This means that either party can end the relationship for any reason at all and even for no reason at all. It is when the reason is a bad one-an illegal one-that wrongful termination may have taken place. One's termination is wrongful if it was done in breach of the employment contract or in violation of some public law. Therefore, if a Minnesota resident was fired in violation of some federal anti-discrimination law, such as racial discrimination, it could be considered wrongful. Similarly, if the employee is fired as a retaliatory measure for lodging a legal complaint against the employer, it would also be considered against the law.

Are you ready to blow the whistle on your medical employer?

All too often, the medical care providers that we depend on to take care of us and keep us healthy take advantage of their circumstances and act fraudulently, either toward patients or toward the government.

Depending on the details of the fraud that you observe, you may feel an obligation to report fraud, which puts you at risk yourself. The government understands how difficult it is to report fraudulent behavior by your own employer and offers protections to those who do report fraud in the workplace.

Do federal workplace discrimination laws cover my workplace?

Much has been said about the various laws that protect against employment discrimination in the workplace in Minneapolis. But, these federal laws provide coverage only if certain requirements are met, and the requirements differ depending on the type of employment discrimination one has faced and the workplace where one is working.

An employer must have a certain number of employees before the laws cover it. For example, a private employer must have 15 employees or more for at least 20 calendar weeks before it can be subjected to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's laws regarding race, age, religion, sex or disability discrimination. Age discrimination laws in a private workplace are only enforceable if there are 20 or more employees who have worked for the employer for 20 or more weeks. All employers are ruled by the Equal Pay Act, regardless of the number of employees.

An employer's obligations to avoid disability discrimination

To understand what duties and obligations an employer owes to their disabled employees, it is first important to understand whom the law protects. The Minneapolis resident must be qualified for the job and have a disability that is defined by the law. This can be shown by three ways: a person could be disabled if they have a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity, such as walking; a person could be disabled if they have a history of disability, such as cancer in remission; or a person may be disabled if they have a condition that is not transitory and minor.

When a job is being offered to the applicant and they are required to answer certain medical questions or pass a medical exam, the law also requires that all new employees be required to answer the questions or take the exam. This means it cannot be fashioned specifically to disqualify a disabled applicant. As per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, discrimination is prohibited in any aspect of employment, including hiring, job assignments, layoff, training and fringe benefits.

Hold employers liable for discrimination with our help

Everyone deserves to earn their living in workplace where they are not facing prejudice or being discriminated against. This is why state and federal laws exist surrounding this area-employees are granted rights to ensure that they in spaces where they feel safe, respected and rewarded for their achievements, not pushed behind or sidelined for their physical characteristics. Discrimination in the workplace doesn't always have to be blatant-oftentimes it is subtle and an employee may not even be sure about what they experienced. However, they should know that discrimination is against the law and should not be tolerated.

Unfortunately, discrimination is still rampant in Minnesota, be it on the basis of race, age or gender. As a result, hard working people are not hired, fired or denied promotions that they deserved. This not only affects one financially but also emotionally. Lawyers at out firm recognize the setbacks that come with discrimination in the workplace and advocate on behalf of their clients to protect their civil rights.

College professor claims constitutional violation over union dues

Most disputes between employees, unions and employers are covered under either state or federal employment laws. However, a recent case shows that some employees may be able to assert a constitutional claim when they address a dispute.

According to a recent report, a college professor at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota is asserting a claim that a state law that requires her to pay union dues - even though she is not a member of a union - is unconstitutional because it violates her First Amendment rights. The report details how the professor's claim is potentially bolstered by a recent and notable ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Defending the legal rights of whistleblowers

There are thousands of good employees in Minnesota - employees who do what they are supposed to do and abide by the appropriate employment laws. However, there are some employers who violate Minnesota laws. When this occurs, some employees take it upon themselves to do the right thing and inform the appropriate authorities. Unfortunately, employees who take these actions may be subject to retaliation from their employers.

This is where whistleblower protection rights come into play. Employees who report illegal conduct by their employers - whether it is wage payment violations, falsifying documents or employing illegal workers - are protected by the law. Specifically, the Minnesota Whistleblower Act protects workers in Minnesota from retaliation by employers who are found to be violating employment laws.

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
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Minneapolis, MN 55415     
Phone: 612-217-4988
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