Minnesota News & Analysis

  • Best defense to bias claims: well-documented reasons for discharge

    The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota recently dismissed an employee's discrimination claim because the record established that the employer had legitimate reasons for not renewing his employment contract.

  • Fallout from consensual sexual relationships can cause headaches down the road

    The federal district court of Minnesota recently heard a case regarding sexual harassment after the breakup of a consensual sexual relationship between an employee and her supervisor. The supervisor allegedly was displeased with the breakup and was unsuccessful in restarting the relationship, and a tense work environment ensued. The court ultimately held that the allegations presented a sufficient basis for the employee's quid pro quo sexual harassment and retaliation claims to go to a jury.

  • Does #MeToo movement mean #TheEnd for workplace romance?

    Recent reports of serious sexual misconduct by prominent men across the country have drawn renewed attention to a variety of issues involving sexual harassment in the workplace. One such issue is how to tell when romantic and/or sexual overtures at work cross the line into sexual harassment or misconduct. The line is often clear—especially for egregious misconduct—but not always. The challenge for employers is to design policies and procedures that make the line clearer for employees and give the employer an opportunity to identify and manage potentially problematic relationships.

  • Republican majority on NLRB targets Obama-era rulings

    During former President Barack Obama's eight years in office, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took an aggressively proemployee approach. It issued a number of rulings that expanded the protections of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) beyond pretty much anyone's expectations. Protection of labor rights in nonunion workforces was of special interest to the NLRB in those years. Only one year into Donald Trump's presidency, the Board has already started whittling away at the most aggressive of those rulings.

  • Cyberwarfare in the workplace: HR on the front lines

    If you thought cybersecurity was only IT's responsibility, think again. Some of the biggest security threats are from hackers who purposefully target a company's employees and trick them into divulging information or granting access to confidential information. Other threats result from employees' careless mistakes, such as logging on to an unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot.

  • Agency Action

    Change likely to NLRBs union election rules. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) published a Request for Information in December 2017 asking for public input on the Boards 2014 rule that shortened the process of holding union representation elections. The NLRB was seeking comments on whether the 2014 rule should be retained, modified, or rescinded. The Boards action on the election rule was one of a string of party-line 3-2 votes taken in December just days before Republican member and Chairman Philip A. Miscimarras term ended on December 16. His departure leaves the Board with two Republicans (Marvin E. Kaplan and William J. Emanuel) and two Democrats (Mark Gaston Pearce and Lauren McFerran). Other actions included decisions overruling Obama-era decisions on union organization of microunits, joint employment, employee rights related to handbook provisions, the reasonableness settlement standard in single-employer claims, and bargaining obligations required before implementing a unilateral change in employment matters.

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey finds few employers prepared for surge in work automation. A survey by Willis Towers Watson shows that work automation, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, is expected to surge in the next three years in companies throughout the United States. The survey also shows that few companies and HR departments are fully prepared to address the organizational change requirements related to automation as well as less reliance on full-time employees and more reliance on contingent talents. The Global Future of Work Survey found that U.S. companies expect automation will account for on average 17% of work being done in the next three years. That compares with 9% of work companies say is being done using AI and robotics today, and just 5% three years ago. The survey shows that less than 5% of companies say their HR departments are fully prepared for the changing requirements of digitalization.

  • Consideration for noncompete must be more than 'expected' benefits

    The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that an employee who signed a noncompete agreement following his second day of training wasn't bound by its terms, even though the contract containing the noncompete language also included several benefits the employer hadn't previously mentioned.

  • Employee claims withdrawing her discrimination claim was protected activity

    We all understand that filing a discrimination charge with a government agency is protected activity, but one employee recently claimed that withdrawing such a charge is also protected. Read on to see how the court responded to that novel approach.

  • Employee must make some effort to do his job, even under duress

    The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that an employee wasn't eligible for unemployment benefits when he was fired after a sudden episode of back and leg pain rendered him unable to perform his job duties.