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

Employment discrimination cases against Fox News reach settlement

Our readers may have seen previous posts here that mentioned several discrimination lawsuits filed against mega-news network Fox News. The claims against Fox News that made the most headlines were for sexual harassment, but there were other claims as well, based on gender and race discrimination. Now, a recent report detailed how Fox News has settled a number of these claims for $10 million.

According to the recent report, the settlement payment will address claims by 18 former Fox News employees. In addition to the claims about race and gender discrimination, the claims also alleged that Fox News engaged in retaliatory behavior based on these claims. The reports note that mediation played a key role in the sides' attempts to reach a settlement for the lawsuits.

Fighting all different types of discrimination in the workplace

Our readers who are familiar with previous our posts know that age discrimination, sexual harassment, disability discrimination and racial discrimination are problems that employers and employees alike must confront in the workplace, sometimes with disturbing regularity. Many employers do their best to instill a workplace atmosphere that is free from these serious problems, but there are some that fail in their efforts. For employees who experience any type of discrimination or harassment at work, sometimes, the only option is to fight that conduct through legal means.

When it comes to fighting discrimination and harassment in the workplace, Minnesota residents will need to know the law that applies to their own unique situation. For instance, an employee who is facing disability discrimination may rely on a different set of state or federal laws than, say, an employee who has been discriminated against due to age or race. Knowing the laws that protect employees and what options those laws allow is crucial to vindicate one's rights.

Lawmakers in Minnesota working on sexual harassment issues

Most of the news coverage that our readers see is probably focused on national politics, rather than local politics. However, state laws can affect the lives of Minnesota residents even more so than national laws. For instance, a recent article noted how the state legislature is continuing to work on issues addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

According to the recent article, the first place for state lawmakers in Minnesota to start was in the legislature itself. At the end of last year, two lawmakers who had been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace resigned.

Does your employment contract have an arbitration clause?

Many employees in Minnesota have relationships with their employers that are governed by employment contracts. Like many other types of contracts that our readers might be familiar with, employment contracts can be several pages long, covering a vast range of terms, from compensation, holiday time and insurance options. But, there is one potential clause in employment contracts that can sometimes be overlooked, but may become crucial: a mandatory arbitration clause.

Does your employment contract have a mandatory arbitration clause? If so, by entering into the agreement you may have limited your ability to pursue civil court options if an employment dispute arises during your term of employment. However, every employment contract is different, so anyone with an arbitration clause in their contract should seek individual legal advice about their options.

Respond carefully to whistleblower retaliation

When an employee witnesses or identifies illegal activity in the workplace, he or she has a responsibility to take proper actions to report it. Unfortunately, the reality of such situations is that these employees often face the hard choice of reporting a violation — and likely suffering some extensive personal losses — or keeping quiet and protecting their own interests.

This is understandable, because a poorly-handled whistleblowing attempt may bring many problems for an employee who makes the decision to report violations. If the employer responds negatively, the employee may suffer whistleblowing retaliation and lose his or her job or even the ability to get hired again in the industry or job sector.

Are you a "non-exempt" employee under the FLSA?

After years of a poor job market, in Minnesota and throughout the country, most people are probably just happy to have a job in today's roaring economy. However, as important as it is for our readers to be happy to have a job, it is equally important to understand one's employment status when it comes to the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the FLSA, employees, in both public and private enterprises, are usually considered to be either "exempt" or "non-exempt" employees. The difference between these two designations is significant. So, is one an "exempt" employee or a "non-exempt" employee under the FLSA?

The ADA protects against disability discrimination

Most people probably don't think about disabilities when they think about discrimination in the workplace. These days, the news is focused on sexual harassment, in particular, along with some high-profile instances of discrimination based on race. However, it is an unfortunate reality that disability discrimination can be just as much of a problem in a workplace in Minnesota.

Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides legal protection for individuals who might face disability discrimination at work. The ADA, which was enacted into law in 1990, provides legal protection on multiple levels. First, for job applicants, the ADA prohibits employers from making hiring decisions based on a person's disability or perceived disability. These applicants must be given the same opportunity to earn the job as applicants who do not have a disability.

What is age discrimination and how does it violate the law?

Most people in Minnesota are familiar with lawsuits that are based on allegations of race or gender discrimination in the workplace, but some are less familiar with the fact that discrimination based on a person's age can be illegal as well. So, what is age discrimination and how does it violate the law?

Well, for starters, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes age discrimination as an act in which an employer discriminates against a current or potential employee based solely on that person's age. For instance, the employer may illegally make hiring or firing decisions based on the person's age, or make decisions about which employees to promote based solely on a person's age. The idea is that the employer might select a younger employee over an older employee, for any number of subtle perceptions about the older employee's capabilities or future with the employer.

Know the basics about sexual harassment claims

Sexual harassment has been in the news quite a bit in recent months, as women everywhere are calling out instances of bad behavior in the workplace. Minnesota is not immune from these types of incidents, and our readers would be well-served to know the basics about a sexual harassment claim.

For starters, it is important to understand how subtle this type of harassment can start. In the beginning, it might just be a comment or two, or even a light touch on the shoulder. But, over time, the behavior may become more aggressive and suggestive, eventually leading to the type of situation in which an employee can't do the job properly because of the sexual harassment.

Fighting for your rights in employment law cases

Although the job market is seemingly better than it has been in decades, just because job opportunities are plentiful doesn't mean that employees in Minnesota don't face challenges. Finding the right job can be just as hard as finding any job at all, because, unfortunately, there are still many employees who face discrimination, harassment and pay-related issues in the workplace.

Discrimination can come in many different forms. For some, it will be based on race, gender or religion. For others, it may be based on their age or a physical or mental disability. Still others will face discrimination because they are pregnant, or they have some other health condition. Employees in Minnesota are protected by both state and federal laws against most forms of discrimination that they might face in the workplace.

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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