Most employees in Minnesota go to work every day just to do their jobs - do them well - and then go home to their families. They don't usually think about the many different laws that are in place to protect employees and their rights. Previous posts here have mentioned many of these laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the laws that protect employees from various forms of discrimination. But, there is one law that many people aren't familiar with: the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, commonly known as "ERISA."
When most people in the Minneapolis area think of employee rights, they probably think of legal cases involving claims of sexual harassment or discrimination. This is understandable. Cases across the nation that involve these types of allegations can be high-profile, putting employers on the spot to explain the illegal discrimination that is occurring in the workplace. But, employees have many other rights as well. And they should know what they are.
Employee rights have come a long way in the United States. Most employees are protected from a wide range of discriminatory conduct, are allowed time off when health emergencies strike and receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. The laws that are in place to ensure that workers in Minnesota receive these employee rights have been implemented over the course of decades.
Most of our readers know that there are laws in place to protect employees in America. One of the most important laws is the Fair Labor Standards Act, or "FLSA." So, what is the Fair Labor Standards Act and what does it have to do with employee rights in Minnesota?
Employees in Minneapolis rarely see something illegal or untoward happening on the job, but these situations can happen. You might have seen your co-workers regularly dumping sewage in a local river. Or, perhaps your industrial company has made it a policy to violate the Clean Air Act.
While the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are set to have new paid sick leave mandates in 2017, there are those in opposition to the mandates. A House bill that would keep cities from being able to institute city-wide benefit and wage mandates that are greater than those provided by state law was the subject of a hearing before the house job growth committee recently. The bill would block local governments from promulgating regulations with regards to minimum benefits, employee scheduling, mandatory paid leave and minimum wages. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 13 to 9. The vote was split along political party lines; the majority members of this particular committee are Republicans.
Some Minnesota workers, for one reason or another, are compelled to quit their jobs. In general, workers who quit their job are not eligible to receive unemployment compensation. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
Whether it is caring for a newborn child, a stay in the hospital for a serious illness or taking care of a seriously ill loved one, there may be times that an employee in Minnesota has to take an extended medical leave from work. It is fortunate, then, that there is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This federal law mandates that employers give workers who have been employed by them for over one year, up to 12 weeks of leave for their own medical needs or the medical needs of a family member. This leave is unpaid.
2017 is almost here, and people across Minnesota are making their New Year's resolutions. One popular New Year's resolution is to get into shape. For many this means signing up for a gym membership. However, a federal investigation has found that one major chain of gyms with locations in Minnesota and 25 other states has committed minimum wage law violations.
The approximately 32,000 Minnesota state government workers are fortunate to be the recipients of a new benefit that recently went into effect: paid leave for six weeks after their child is adopted or born. Democratic Governor Mark Dayton stated that this benefit will help them attract and keep good employees. Previously, workers in such situations were only eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, although birth mothers could be eligible for short-term disability pay.