You have to have been in a coma over the past weeks not to realize sexual harassment continues to be an issue in the workplace. A number of high profile individuals have had sexual harassment claims asserted against them. Some individuals have lost high paying jobs. This tells us sexual harassment claims are alive and well despite well intended policies and training.
It can be difficult to do business in Minnesota and across the world. One aspect that must be followed has to do with certain laws that might be somewhat muddled or confusing. When selling a product or service, there is often a fine line between fraud, deception and simple salesmanship. The law takes such issues as deceptive trade practices very seriously and if there is an accusation of it, it can cost a great deal of money -- if not the entire business -- trying to navigate the situation.
The holiday season often presents unfortunate opportunities for legal problems for businesses because of an increase in business demand, more business hours, temporary workers and the need to meet consumer demands. Any legal shortcuts may pose legal problems that last well after the new year.
Any business disputes or employee lawsuits can be costly, complex and lengthy. Recent business litigation between an Illinois-based company and some of its employees also shows how a lawsuit can grow.
The U.S. Supreme Court may allow the use of statistics for a class action lawsuit by Tyson employees for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This proof, if allowed, would be unique to this class-action lawsuit.
The proliferation of social media poses legal and personnel challenges for Minnesota employers, and potentially grounds for employment disputes. A worker's right to self-expression may conflict with the employer's interest in preventing criticism of its products and services, and protection of its reputation.
Federal laws prevent discrimination concerning the hiring and treatment of workers. In other words, while discrimination may have been absent from a hiring decision, employers may violate federal law by treating workers differently in matters such as salaries and wages.
Under the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act, an employer cannot discharge an employee after that worker's first positive drug test without providing an opportunity for counseling or treatment. Employers may be liable in a civil action for damages suffered by an employee when the employer violate this law.
Minnesota businesses may consider using interns to perform business tasks as these workers obtain experience, knowledge and even educational credits. While considered a low-cost alternative to hiring wage workers, these arrangement may lead to business disputes. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, along with state laws, govern whether a worker is an employee entitled to FLSA wage protections or may be considered an unpaid intern.
The legal status of workers in Minnesota and throughout the United States is evolving, and long-standing assumptions may not always apply. Actions by the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, among others, can change requirements for wages and other important transactions between employers and employees. Failure to comply with these changes may have serious legal and financial implications.