Jul
16

A Few Basic Employee Rights: Why You May Have Earned that Vacation, but Still Have No Right to One

Questions abound regarding the basic rights that people have as employees. This makes sense given how large of a role jobs play in most of our lives and the complexity and diverse of issues that affect employment. To further complicate matters, though the federal standards are the most commonly cited standards, they do not always apply. Sometimes employers are only responsible for meeting state, or even local, standards. To help clarify the matter for Minnesota employees, this post will address a few of the most common issues regarding basic employee rights.[1] First, though, it is useful...

Dec
8

Horrible Bosses

Everyone has either had one or heard the horror stories. Dealing with a supervisor or manager who yells, swears, and otherwise acts in a completely disrespectful manner towards employees can be traumatizing and have a substantial effect on morale, stress and anxiety levels, and even health. Given how severe the damage can be to the employee, does this mean the employee can sue and recover for this behavior?

At least in the Eighth Circuit, the answer is generally “no.” Most often, regardless of how rude and offensive the conduct of a supervisor or manager, as long as the conduct is not...

Dec
27

Are Owner/Employees Able to Maintain Discrimination Claims Against the Company?

Are Owner/Employees Able to Maintain Discrimination Claims Against the Company?

According to a recent decision by the Seventh Circuit, the answer to the question above is more or less a simple “no.” The case at issue is Bluestein v. Central Wisc. Anesthesiology. The facts concern a medical professional (Bluestein) who, after a period of employment, became a shareholder and voting board member for the Defendant company. After suffering a severe injury, Bluestein requested an indefinite leave of absence and the company demanded her resignation, stating that they would “terminate her...

Dec
27

Shifting Responsibility through Use of Independent Contractors versus Employees

Mainstream media has recently focused a lot of attention on businesses that utilize independent contractors (think Uber, Lyft, or AirBnB). This has even gone so far as to lead some to speculate that traditional employment may be in jeopardy. While this is a significant exaggeration, the overuse of the independent contractor label is very real.

The use of independent contractors by businesses fits much better, or at least more cleanly, in some business models than others (see Uber’s particular, recent legal troubles for an example). The traditional use of independent contractors, often...

Apr
9

Initiating Minnesota Wage Claims

The vast majority of employers pay employees on time and using proper calculations. Of course, problems can and do arise in this area. When an employer fails to pay, or calculates pay incorrectly, the consequences can be rather severe if the employer does not take quick action to correct the problem. This post will briefly outline a few of the most common ways an employee may initiate wage claims against an employer in Minnesota.

Informal Notice and Demand for Wages

For a terminated or laid-off employee, wages earned at the time of discharge are immediately due to an employee upon demand....

Sep
28

Calculating Wages Not Paid: Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo

In a decision earlier this year, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that employees proceeding together as a putative class, or as a collective for claims under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), can demonstrate commonality through statistical evidence that is not particular to the plaintiffs and events at issue. The decision in the case, Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo et al., 765 F.3d 791 (2016)[1] dealt with Tyson employees who stated that their employer failed to compensate them for time putting on and taking off protective gear required for that work. They claimed that...

Apr
8

How the Naughty Employee Is the Employer's Problem

An employee in Minnesota, acting in good faith and within the scope of the employee’s work, is normally protected from direct civil liability by his or her employer through what is typically referred to as indemnification. Minnesota lays out this protection in statute at section 181.970 – Employee Indemnification. It typically covers all damages, penalties, and fines. You can find the statute here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=181.970.

At its heart this law states that an employer, not the employee, is responsible for damages resulting from the conduct of the employee on the...

Mar
16

Leaving a Bitter Taste in Your Mouth - Unsavory Pay Practices in the Food Service Industry

An editorial in the NY Times from March of 2018 highlighted the perceived injustices of pay practices in the restaurant industry. They focused on the most commonly recognized issue of payment at rates below the standard minimum wage levels for tipped employees in states that allow such practices.[1] But while these practices are explicitly authorized under many wage laws, the restaurant industry is rife with other pay practices that do violate employment law at the local or federal level.

A 2014 report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) cited statistics from the U.S. DOL Wage and Hour...

Aug
6

Thieving Employer or a Trap for the Inattentive? Minnesota's New Wage Theft Statute

The New Minnesota Wage Theft Law Creates Big Risks for Unwary Employers.  Starting August 1, 2019, the date of this post, Minnesota employers committing “wage theft” will now be guilty of a crime. This is just one part of a recent and substantive set of employment reforms in Minnesota intended to enhance worker protections.[1] “Wage theft,” for purposes of the new law, includes any of the following conducted with an intent to defraud:

Failure to pay an employee all wages, salary, gratuities, earnings, or commissions at the employee’s rate or rates of pay or at the rate or rates...