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Total Articles: 28

Minnesota Supreme Court Kills Employment at Will

On October 11, 2017, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a decision in Burt v. Rackner, Inc., No. A15-2045 (October 11, 2017), that may have effectively abrogated the long-standing rule of “employment at will” in Minnesota. By creating a claim for retaliation under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (MFLSA)—a statute which does not contain an express retaliation provision—a 5-2 majority of the court held that other provisions of the MFLSA could be read to permit a restaurant employee who refused to share tips in apparent violation of the law (and who was later discharged) to sue for wrongful discharge under the statute. The court’s majority articulated a new and expansive principle for finding legislative intent to allow a claim based on a statute.

Alert for Minnesota State Government Contractors Filing Pay Equity Certifications

Most businesses entering into contracts in excess of $500,000 with the state of Minnesota are required to obtain an Equal Pay Certificate from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) as a condition of doing business with the state. The required elements of an application for certification are set forth in section 363A.44 of the Minnesota statutes.

Minnesota Tightens Restrictions on “Drive-By” Disability Access Lawsuits

On May 23, 2017, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law amendments to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) that are intended to curb the flood of “drive-by” disability access lawsuits in the state.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul Sick and Safe Leave Ordinances Effective July 1

The Minneapolis Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance and the Saint Paul Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance will go into effect on July 1, 2017, as scheduled.

Minnesota Legislature Gives Up on Bill to Preempt Cities’ Safe and Sick Leave Ordinances

In the waning hours of the 2017 legislative session, Republicans who control both houses of the Minnesota Legislature reached an agreement with Democratic Governor Mark Dayton on a budget bill that removed from a provision that would have preempted Minnesota cities’ safe and sick leave ordinances and other labor standards measures.

Preliminary Rules Released for Minneapolis and Saint Paul Sick Leave Ordinances

The City of Minneapolis and the City of Saint Paul have issued their preliminary rules regarding their respective safe and sick leave ordinances, which are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017. These preliminary rules provide additional clarity and guidance on how the ordinances will be interpreted and applied.

Minnesota Bill to Preempt Local Sick and Safe Leave Ordinances Advances in Legislature

As expected, the Uniform State Labor Standards Act (H.F. No. 600)—a Minnesota bill to preempt local employment law ordinances, including the Minneapolis and St. Paul safe and sick leave ordinances—passed in the state House of Representatives on March 2, 2017, by a 76–53 margin. All Republican members of the chamber who were present supported the measure, and they were joined by two Democrats. The bill will now go to the state Senate, where a companion measure (S.F. No. 580) has been introduced.

Legislative Update for Minnesota Employers: Paid Leave Bills Advance, Cell Phone Hands-Free Bill Introduced

Employers with employees in Minnesota—and in particular, those with employees in the cities of Minneapolis and/or St. Paul—may be interested in the status of several bills that have been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature addressing the issue of paid leaves of absence, including safe and sick leave.

Minnesota Legislature Moves Forward to Preempt Municipal Safe and Sick Leave and Wage Ordinances

The battle over paid sick leave and minimum wage ordinances at the municipal level moved to the Minnesota Legislature as its 2017–2018 session kicked off at the end of January. Several bills introduced in the 2017-2018 session would either establish a statewide standard for paid leaves or preempt and prevent municipalities from passing their own ordinances on these subjects.

Court Limits Reach of Minneapolis Mandatory Sick and Safe Leave Law

A Minnesota state district court recently issued a temporary injunction preventing Minneapolis from enforcing its Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), which is scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2017, against any employer “resident outside the geographic boundaries” of Minneapolis until after a hearing on the merits or further court order. It is unclear from the court’s ruling which employers are “resident outside” of Minneapolis, although simply having an employee work some of his or her time within the city limits is likely not sufficient to subject an employer to the Ordinance. An appeal of the court’s order is expected, but for now, the other requirements of the Ordinance remain intact.

Minneapolis Safe and Sick Leave Ordinance Survives Broad Injunction Threat but Is Restricted to Employers Within City Limits

A challenge brought in state court by a coalition of business groups, employers, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the Minneapolis Safe and Sick Time Ordinance (No. 2016-040) from taking effect on July 1, 2017, was partially successful. In an order issued on January 19, 2017, Hennepin County District Judge Mel I. Dickstein denied a broad injunction, finding that the city had authority to enact the ordinance, but he granted a temporary injunction preventing its application to employers that are not located within the territorial limits of the city of Minneapolis. The ruling is likely to be appealed by both parties to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and, eventually, to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Election Time and the Minnesota Voter Leave Law

Minnesota is one of several states that require all employers, both public sector and private sector, to grant time off with pay to employees to vote in the upcoming general election to be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Minnesota Employer Had No Duty to Find New Position for Older Worker, Eighth Circuit Holds

A 63-year-old employee, who had worked in an administrative capacity for her employer for 12 years, was told that her position had been eliminated due to a customer-commissioned audit of the company’s services and recommended that ABM streamline its staff. She sued and claimed, among other things, that her employer was obliged to find her a different position with the company. Affirming summary judgment for the employer, the Eighth Circuit held that no such duty existed under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Haggenmiller v. ABM Parking Services, Inc., No. 15-3107 (September 14, 2016).

Minneapolis Amends Recently Enacted Paid Sick Leave Law

Minneapolis, Minnesota has amended the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance less than four months after it was enacted.1 The amendments come on the heels of neighboring St. Paul adopting its own paid sick leave law,2 and bring the Minneapolis Ordinance more in line with St. Paul’s requirements concerning frontloading, payment of employees when on leave, tracking accrual of available paid sick time, and recording required information.

Saint Paul Becomes the Second City in Minnesota to Mandate Paid Sick and Safe Time

On September 7, 2016, Saint Paul became the second city in Minnesota to mandate that employers provide earned sick and safe time for their workers. Under Saint Paul’s ordinance (the “Saint Paul Ordinance”), covered employers must allow employees who work in Saint Paul to accrue one hour of sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours of sick and safe time each year.

St. Paul, Minnesota Joins the Paid Sick Leave Patchwork Quilt and Continues Its Spread Into the Interior States

We have been reporting on the growing patchwork of paid sick leave laws now for over 3 years. The patchwork continues to fill in heavily on the west coast with state laws in both California and Oregon and 10 city ordinances scattered across California, Oregon and Washington. This summer Los Angeles and San Diego added their own patches to the quilt. To read more about these new laws, click here and here.

Minnesota Court Creates “Wrongful Discharge” Damages Claim for MFLSA Violations

In an unexpected surprising broadening of employee rights under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held, on June 27, 2016, that an employee who is discharged for refusing to obey an employer’s directive that violates the act can sue for “damages normally associated with a wrongful-discharge cause of action” and not merely lost wages. Burt v. Rackner, Inc. d/b/a/ Bunny’s Bar & Grill, No. 12-CV-15-11477 (June 27, 2016).

Minneapolis Passes Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance

On May 27, 2016, after more than six months of public discussion, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will require all employers in the city to provide paid sick and safe leave to most workers. This adds to the patchwork of five states, 23 cities, and one county with paid sick time laws already on the books.

In Minnesota, the Clock’s Not Ticking During Dispute Resolution

A claim of an unfair discriminatory practice under the Minnesota Human Rights Act must be brought as a civil action or as a charge filed with a local commission or the Minnesota Department of Human Rights within one year after the occurrence of the discriminatory practice. However, the statute of limitations is suspended during the time a potential charging party and respondent are voluntarily engaged in a “dispute resolution process.”

Minneapolis Becomes the Only City in the Midwest to Mandate Paid Sick and Safe Leave

On May 31, 2016, Mayor Betsy Hodges signed the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), an expansive paid leave measure. Under this Ordinance, starting July 1, 2017, employers must allow employees to accrue up to 48 hours of sick and safe time each year. Employers with six or more employees must provide paid sick and safe time, while smaller employers must at least provide unpaid leave. The Ordinance applies to private employers of all sizes, including employers with only one employee, as long one employee works within Minneapolis city limits.

Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance to Take Effect

The Minneapolis City Council has approved a comprehensive ordinance that will require private employers to provide sick and safe leave to employees starting July 1, 2017. Employers with at least six employees will have to provide paid leave. Those with five or fewer employees will be permitted to provide unpaid leave.

Minneapolis Becomes First City in Minnesota to Require Paid Sick Leave

Minneapolis, Minnesota, has joined the growing list of U.S. cities mandating paid sick leave for employees working in the city.

Minnesota Drug Testing Law Applies Where Minnesota Resident Was Hired to Work in Another State

A federal appeals court in Minnesota has held that the Minnesota drug testing statute applies to an applicant tested in Minnesota, even though the applicant was being hired for a job in another state. Olson v. Push, Inc., No. 14-3160 (8th Cir. Feb. 22, 2016).

Minnesota Supreme Court Creates Two Statutes of Limitation for the Same Whistleblower Statute

On January 20, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided Ford v. Minneapolis Public Schools, setting a six-year statute of limitations for certain employee whistleblower claims. The court held that the statute of limitations for a retaliation claim by an employee based on that employee’s reporting of violations of law is six years under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA).

St. Paul is Second Minnesota City to Weigh Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are both preparing to enact local laws affording employees paid sick leave. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and the St. Paul City Council have announced that the Council will convene a Task Force to discuss an ordinance mandating that all private and public sector employees be provided earned sick and safe time for working in Saint Paul.

Bad Blood Makes Good Law: Minnesota Supreme Court Recognizes Tortious Interference Claim

In Gieseke v. IDCA, Inc., et al., No. A12-0713 (March 26, 2014), the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that “tortious interference with prospective economic advantage” is a viable claim under Minnesota law. In so holding, the court formally recognized a cause of action, which had existed in Minnesota since at least 1909, though the state’s appellate courts had used a variety of phrases through the years to describe it.

Minnesota Supreme Court Refuses to Expand Exception to Employment-at-Will Doctrine

The Minnesota Supreme Court rang in 2014 with an employer-friendly decision on the at-will employment rule. On January 2, in Dukowitz v. Hannon Security Services (No. A11-1481), the state’s highest court held that the public-policy exception to the employment-at-will rule does not apply to an employment termination resulting from an employee’s application for unemployment benefits. This is a key holding for employers, as it signifies the court’s reluctance to further chip away at the common law employment-at-will doctrine.

Minnesota Legislature Grants Independent Child Care and Home Care Health Workers the Right to Unionize as “State Employees”

Capping a tumultuous session, the 88th Minnesota legislature, on the final day of the 2013 session, passed a bill, S.F. 778, which was long sought by labor unions because it would give them the right to organize private family child care providers and home health care providers who work independently in their own businesses.
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