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

Minneapolis Wrongful Termination Law Blog

Is hiring on the basis of affinity discriminatory?

Even as the Minnesota administration is touting their inclusiveness in the workplace, the state is facing a lawsuit from a former auditor of the Minnesota Department of Revenue for discriminating against him. According to the former employee, he was blocked from promotions that other less qualified white colleagues received. According to him, he was the one who had trained the promoted individuals.

The Ghana native claimed that the state's subjective hiring processes and promotion processes have an adverse effect on black workers. He claims that they are constantly passed over for promotions, evidenced by the fact that there was only one black supervisor in the division the former employee worked in.

What is a whistleblower?

The term "whistleblower" often pops up during salacious news casts about corporate misdeeds and major legal investigations. However, for as much as Americans hear it, many may not actually know what the term "whistleblower" means. A brief overview of this important employment law topic may give Minnesota residents a better understanding of why it can be hard for some individuals to take on such a role.

A whistleblower is a worker who reports a violation committed by their employer. Because employers are often regulated in many of their operations, whistleblowing can happen in many different contexts. For example, a worker who learns that their employer is improperly handling hazardous materials may contact the EPA to inform that entity of the violations. A worker who learns of their employer's discriminatory hiring practices may make a report to the EEOC about such illegal actions, for example.

Do not stand against discrimination and harassment alone

Regardless of one's race, gender, religious belief or age, Minneapolis residents deserve to work in a space that is free from discrimination and one where they feel safe and respected. Providing those workplaces is an employer's responsibility, but an employer could be far-removed from the workplace. This is where managers and supervisors come into play -- they keep up with what is happening in the office and are often the ones violated employees go to in order to report a problem. When a supervisor or manager neglects to address the problem and lets discrimination continue, they may be in violation of federal laws.

As mentioned previously on this blog, sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal in Minneapolis, as is across the country. However, discrimination is still rampant. Whether one is facing unwanted sexual advances, receiving inappropriate attention because of one's sexual orientation or is being denied the space or opportunity to pump, they may have a case for employment law violations.

Nursing mothers denied legal protections, discriminated against

Returning to work after having a baby is an emotionally difficult time for mothers -- leaving one's child behind is tough enough. But, then having to work out the logistics of nursing and pumping just adds to the complications. And, breastfeeding women have some protections at work through federal laws that require time throughout the day to pump and a space to do so, which does not include a bathroom. Even these simple accommodations make it easier for breastfeeding women to return to work.

However, a startling new report found that millions of women who believe they were covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are actually not, which is why breastfeeding discrimination is rampant in workplaces. Minnesota residents may be surprised to hear that these types of discrimination cases have risen by 800 percent in the last decade.

Learn to recognize fraud and protect yourself as a whistleblower

Wherever there is a chance, there is likely a person who is trying to take advantage of the government or other systems for their own benefit. The reality is that fraud is extremely common, and it's something that the government relies on others reporting.

There's no way for the government to know, or be able to discover, all the fraud that takes place. That's why it provides whistleblower protections to those who discover and report fraud.

Minnesota K9 officer alleges on-the-job discrimination

Law enforcement officers are important members of communities throughout Minnesota. They offer assistance, guidance and security to individuals who are in situations of peril, as well as protecting individuals from the threats of others. While some law enforcement officers are in the field with other human partners, others work closely with dogs who perform specific duties.

Dogs that are enlisted in the K9 units of law enforcement offices require special training and handlers who can provide them with the guidance they need to be assets to their departments. According to a recent report, a 34-year-veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department recently filed a lawsuit against her office and supervisor, claiming that as a part of the K9 unit she experienced both age and sex discrimination.

Misconceptions about sexual harassment hinder progress

There are a number of misconceptions about sexual harassment in the workplace that may confuse Minnesota residents who believe they are being harassed or discriminated against on the basis of their sex. This may prevent someone from calling attention to unwanted behavior that makes them uncomfortable in their office space. Therefore, understanding what sexual harassment is and what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission looks at while investigating allegations can be helpful to all employees in their individual workplaces.

Firstly, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the law, it is illegal to harass someone -- either an employee or an applicant -- on the basis of their sex. While many believe a harasser is only a man or someone of the opposite sex, this is not the case -- a harasser can be of any sex and does not have to be one of the opposite one. Additionally, the harasser does not have to be a supervisor only -- it can be an agent of the employer, a co-worker, a supervisor of another department and even a non-employee. Additionally, the victim does not have to be the person harassed -- it could be anyone who is affected by the harassing behavior.

Baby boomers working past retirement age may face discrimination

Around 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age daily across the country, so it makes sense that they account for a growing percentage of the workforce. Minnesotans aged 65 and older in the workforce increased about 63 percent from 2003, holding 4.4 percent of jobs that are covered by unemployment insurance in 2017. In the same period, the number of average hours they worked per week also went up, as did their average hourly wage.

According to the AARP Minnesota volunteer president, a stronger economy is creating new opportunities for older workers. Additionally, older workers are not wanting to be fully retired -- as they examine their lives and explore different kinds of work, they are trying to find work that fits into what life stage they are in.

Can I get terminated for using medical cannabis?

With the use of medical marijuana legal in Minnesota, many individuals may find themselves hesitating from taking the substance for treatment of their medical conditions for fear of getting terminated from their job by testing positive on a drug test. However, it is important for Minnesota residents to know that they are protected from employment discrimination on the basis of using medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis is any cannabis plant that is delivered in any method approved by the Minnesota Department of health, including in liquid form, pill or vaporized delivery. If a Minnesota resident has been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, such as glaucoma, AIDS, cancer, or a terminal illness, among others, they are eligible to get treated with medical cannabis. To do so, they must be enrolled with the medical cannabis registry program. This is different from smoking marijuana, which is still considered illegal in the state.

Employees should expect certain rights when at work

Individuals who live in Minnesota enjoy certain rights that extend from protections put into place by the state and federal governments. These rights include, but are not limited to, the right to be free from unreasonable searches, the right to practice the religions of their choice and the right to express themselves and their ideas through their speech. When workers in Minneapolis arrive at their jobs, these rights persist and they may also have other rights by virtue of their employment.

For example, as our readers likely know, employees have the right to work in environments that are free from discrimination and they should not suffer retaliation for doing their jobs. They also have the right to work in safe places where their safety is not threatened and they are provided with the training and equipment that they need to accomplish their tasks without threats of injury.

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