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

Minneapolis Wrongful Termination Law Blog

Defining disability under the ADA

A disability can be something that a Minnesota person is born with or it may be acquired after an illness or injury. Disabilities can be physical and can manifest by problems with individuals' movement, balance, or coordination. They may also be mental and can impact how individuals think, feel, and perceive their surroundings.

While disabilities can affect how individuals interact with the world, they do not have to prevent individuals from living their best lives. Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act are in place to prevent others from barring disabled workers from finding jobs and contributing to the successes of their employers. Under the ADA, the term disability has a broad definition.

Mental illness disability discrimination in the workplace

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD seem to be increasing each year. Many potential employees will fail to even apply for a job because they fear being immediately turned down due to these types of conditions. What they fail to realize is that mental health conditions are covered under the same legal protections as physical health conditions. As such, it is the sole decision of a job applicant whether or not to disclose this information in a job interview, or at any time thereafter unless required for accommodations or benefit eligibility.

While employers may assess the skills and potential of job applicants, under the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act they cannot fail to make a job offer, harass, or terminate an employee due to a mental health condition.

What rights do you have against wage discrimination?

It is an unfortunate fact of the times we live in that two people may often be performing the same job but one might be receiving more compensation for it. Whether this wage discrimination results from discrimination against gender, age or race, it is prohibited by federal law and Minnesota residents should know that employees have the right to be free from discrimination in their compensation. All types of compensation are covered by the federal law prohibiting discrimination, including overtime pay, bonuses, salary and profit sharing.

The Equal Pay Act requires that where men and women are working equally in the same establishment, they be given equal pay. It is the job content, not the job title, that will determine the value of compensation, therefore the jobs being performed do not need to be the same, but do need to be substantially similar. Where the jobs require the same skill, measured by experience, education and training, the same effort, measured by amount of physical or mental exertion required to complete the job, the same responsibility, measured by the degree of accountability of completing the job and under similar working conditions in the same establishment, men and women should be paid the same amount of compensation.

Don't let fear stop you from doing what is right

Although some may truly enjoy doing their jobs, most Minnesota residents go to work each day because they need to earn money to support their families. A pay check is an important part of keeping families afloat and securing the resources individuals need, so they can live their lives without fear of knowing where the food, shelter, and other requirements will come from. Not many people actively choose to engage in practices that could threaten their livelihoods and jeopardize their jobs.

However, some workers are placed in very difficult positons when they know their employers are doing something wrong but they are also afraid of speaking up. Witnessing illegal acts or becoming aware of damaging actions by one's employer can be stressful for a worker who wants to say something but is scared that doing so may cost them their job. For those who are in this terrible situation, attorney John Klassen is available.

What is the whistleblower protection program?

As someone who knows that there are safety and health violations happening at your place of work, you want to let someone know. However, if you do, you're worried that you could face retaliation. Your employer is not known for being kind to those who make them angry, and this makes you concerned.

The good thing to know is that you are protected under whistleblower laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Whistleblower Protection Program is there to protect people like yourself from unfair retaliation when you've done something to help others in your workplace.

Chipotle offers to rehire manager after terminating her

Minnesota residents may have been following the developing news about a local Chipotle firing one of its managers after a video emerged where she suggested that five black customers were not going to pay for their meal. The viral video showed the manager telling one of the customers that they have to pay, because they rarely have money when they come into the store and that food would not be made until the customers had money. The customers complained about stereotypes in the video and one of them took the complaint to social media, resulting in a flood of complaints against the food chain and their decision to terminate the manager in question.

New evidence, however, suggests that the manager was not racially discriminating against the customers in question. In the videos posted online, employees present at the time could also be heard saying they had previously ordered food at the restaurant without paying for it. In fact, tweets emerged showing at least one of the customers supporting the practice of dining and dashing, and even boasting about doing it at various restaurants, including Chipotle.

Can you get unemployment compensation?

Making ends meet is difficult enough while a Minnesota resident is gainfully employed. A layoff or entrenchment just amplifies the matter. However, an unemployed worker may not be aware that they could be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet certain criteria.

The state pays unemployment compensation to workers who have lost their jobs because they were laid off or because of entrenchment. This way, jobless workers can have a source of income until they find a job once again. However, eligibility depends on having worked for a certain amount of time and whether they are actively looking for a job. However, it is only available for a limited period of time or until the employee finds work again.

U.S. Supreme Court rules on ADEA case

Age discrimination is a prohibited employment action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Employers in a variety of industries are not allowed to make adverse employment and hiring decisions about individuals based upon their ages. In Minnesota and other jurisdictions, cities and other local governments often fall under these rules, though prior to a recent United States Supreme Court decision the number of employees a municipality or group employed may have exempt it from the ADEA.

An age discrimination case arose in Arizona that involved the termination of two firefighters who were both over the age of 40. The men sued their former employer and claimed that they were the victims of age discrimination. Their employer, however, countered that the ADEA did not apply to them because they employed fewer than 20 workers.

What can you do if you are injured on the job?

It is a Minnesota employer's responsibility to ensure the workplace is safe from hazards and, when employers neglect to live up to this responsibility, employees get injured through little or no fault of their own. However, many injured employees may not be aware that they might be entitled to workers' compensation benefits if their injury is suffered during the course of employment while they were performing work-related tasks.

Workers' compensation refers to laws that are created to provide benefits to injured employees. It is the law that almost every business must have some form of workers' compensation in place, regardless of whether the employer is a federal employer or a private employer. It is an employee's right to file a workers' compensation claim if they have been injured in the workplace.

What is age discrimination?

There is a misconception that younger workers are more likely to adapt to newer technology, work harder and be less susceptible to injuries. When employers give in to such beliefs, they discredit the valuable experience and knowledge an older worker can bring to the job. In addition to this, they may be guilty of age discrimination, an action prohibited by federal law.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects both employees and applicants age 40 and above from discrimination based on age in every aspect of employment. It applies to employers with at least 20 employees, the federal government, employment agencies, state and local agencies and labor organizations with at least 25 members. States are also obligated to create laws for workplaces with fewer than 20 employees and stronger protections for older workers.

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     
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Minneapolis, MN 55415     
Phone: 612-217-4988
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