July 31, 2013

Things are not always as they seem

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Disability, Discrimination, Fair Labor Standards Act, Minimum Wage, Overtime, Reasonable Accommodation tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:50 pm by Tom Jacobson

IMG_5116 Edited“Why is Sam sticking his fingers in Spencer’s mouth?” That’s what ran through my head a couple of years ago when I snapped this picture of one of my sons and a teammate working at a swim meet. When you look closely, you’ll see that things are not always as they seem.

Things are not always as they may seem in the legal world, either. A while back I wrote about an employee who was found eligible for unemployment benefits despite her failure to report to work for two months. For more on that story, click here.

There’s also the more recent case of Lucas v. Jerusalem Cafe, LLC. where a number of workers who were unauthorized aliens sued their employer for overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Because they were unauthorized aliens, our first reaction might be to question why they would have a right to sue for a FLSA violation or even collect wages in the first place. That’s what the employer argued, but the court disagreed, noting that “The FLSA does not allow employers to exploit any employee’s immigration status or to profit from hiring unauthorized aliens in violation of federal law.” Interestingly, the court also noted how the employer’s argument rested “on a legal theory as flawed today as it was in 1931 when jurors convicted Al Capone of failing to pay taxes on illicit income.”

But what if an employee sleeps on the job?  Shouldn’t he be fired? Not if waking him would be a reasonable accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the federal judge in Virginia who is presiding over the case of Riddle v. Hubbell Lighting, Inc.

Unemployment statutes, the ADA and the FLSA are just a few of the many employment laws where outcomes are not always what you might expect them to be. For a better idea of what those outcomes might be, please contact me at alexandriamnlaw.com or  taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2013 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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July 19, 2013

New MN sick leave law takes effect Aug. 1 – are you ready?

Posted in Care of Relatives Leave, Caregiver Leave, Family and Medical Leave Act, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Family Leave, Leaves of Absence, Sick Leave, Sick or Injured Child Care Leave tagged , , , , , at 2:27 pm by Tom Jacobson

sick day

Effective August 1, 2013 many Minnesota employers will need to update their policies to comply with the state’s new sick leave law.

In the past Minnesota’s Sick or Injured Child Care law required employers with 21 or more employees at one site to allow employees to use personal sick leave for absences due to an illness of or injury to the employee’s child on the same terms the employee was able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury. Leave under this law could be limited to the reasonable amount of time the employee’s attendance with the child was necessary.

However, on May 24, 2013 Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a significant expansion of these leave rights.  Specifically, the new law provides that:

An employee may use personal sick leave benefits provided by the employer for absences due to an illness of or injury to the employee’s child … , adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, or stepparent, for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.

The title of the law also changed to the Sick Leave Benefits; Care of Relatives Law.

So, effective Aug. 1, in addition to being able to use sick leave to care for a child, a Minnesota employee working for a covered employer may also use sick leave to care for these other relatives specified in the law.

The law does have limits, however.  For example, it only applies to employees who have worked at least half time for a covered employer for at least 12 months prior to their request. And, not all children are covered by the law, for only those children under 18 years of age (or under 20 if still attending secondary school) are considered children for the purposes of this law. Also, the law does not require an employer to provide sick leave at all. But, employers who do provide a sick leave benefit will need to allow it to be used for the care of the relatives listed in the law.

What you need to know:  Minnesota employers are not required to provide a sick leave benefit for their employees. However, effective Aug. 1, 2013 employers who are covered by the Care of Relatives Law (that is, employers with 21 or more employees at one site) must allow eligible employees (employees who have worked at least half time for a covered employer for at least 12 months prior to their request) to use any sick leave that is provided to care for their children and the additional relatives now listed in the law. Employers who are also covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will have the added burden of coordinating FMLA leave and state Care of Relatives Leave when leaves of absence qualify under both laws.

For more information about this article, please contact me at alexandriamnlaw.com or  taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2013 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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