Unsolicited comments about an employee to other employers could give rise to defamation claims.
On January 30, 2023, in Abdul-Haqq v. LaLiberte, the Minnesota court of appeals held that “Minnesota law does not recognize a qualified privilege for defamatory statements made while dispensing unsolicited career advice.” There, LaLiberte contracted with Liam Hawkins as a sales representative for a storm-damage repair company. Several years later, Hawkins contracted with a company associated with Abdul-Haqq. LaLiberte subsequently sent several texts messages to Hawkins that disparaged Abdul-Haqq so that Hawkins could make an informed decision about working for Abdul-Haqq. Abdul-Haqq then sued LaLiberte, alleging the statements in LaLiberte’s text messages were defamatory. A jury awarded $300,000 in damages... Read More
Unemployment Law in Minnesota: If an Employee Quits
In Minnesota, a former employee may still receive unemployment benefits if he or she falls under one of ten exceptions. One of the most common exceptions is “adverse working conditions.” In summary, the employee must have suffered unpleasant working conditions that the employer was responsible for, and that it would compel an average reasonable worker to quit. Most importantly, the employee must have complained to the employer and given them an opportunity to correct such adverse working conditions. If you quit your job, you still may be eligible for unemployment benefits in Minnesota. Contact attorney Andrew Moeller by email or... Read More
Is it Time to Update your Employee Handbook?
Once you have an Employee Handbook, it is easy to put it on the shelf and forget about it. But new rules, regulations, policies, and laws may require changes to your Handbook. For example, does your Handbook account for the Minnesota Wage Disclosure Protection law? Does its anti-discrimination policy include all of the protected classes identified in the Minnesota Human Rights Act (including gender identify)? Have you implemented new policies that need to be incorporated into the Handbook? It is a good idea to have your Employee Handbook reviewed to ensure it stays up to date and complies with current... Read More
Unemployment Law in Minnesota
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many uncertainties to our society, including to our work force. Many people had to quit their job or were fired. Often, it is assumed that if an employee quit or was fired, they will be unable to receive unemployment in Minnesota. However, this is inaccurate. Under the law in Minnesota, you may be able to get unemployment if you were fired for several reasons, including simple unsatisfactory conduct, conduct an average and reasonable employee would have engaged in under the circumstances, mere inefficiency, or inadvertence. If you had to quit your job or were... Read More
What is the difference between wrongful termination damages and unemployment benefits?
When it comes to the termination of one’s employment, there are typically two issues to think about. First, is the employee eligible for unemployment benefits? Second, was the termination “wrongful” in the sense that the terminated employee can sue the employer for damages? Although related, these are two distinct issues that must be separately analyzed. Generally speaking, an employee who is terminated from employment is eligible for unemployment unless the person was terminated for employment misconduct. Misconduct is defined to mean “any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job, that is a serious violation of... Read More
Can I be fired for that? “At will” employment and the myth of wrongful termination
The term “wrongful termination” is kind of a misnomer. Most employment in Minnesota is considered “at will” which means an employee can be terminated at any time for just about any reason – or even no reason at all. The catch, however, is that employment cannot be terminated for “illegal” reasons. An illegal reason includes: termination based on a protected class status (i.e., race, gender, religion, disability, age); termination for reporting a violation of law (whistleblowing); termination for filing a work comp case; termination in violation of contractual terms. It may be “wrong” to terminate employment because you showed up... Read More
I Was Fired: How Do I Get My Last Paycheck?
There is no shame in it; people get fired all the time, often for innocuous reasons. If it happens to you, there are a few things you should know, like how to get paid. Whether you are paid by the hour, salary, on commission, or some combination of those, your earned compensation that has not been paid is due immediately upon being fired. You are protected by Minnesota Statutes Section 181.13, which provides that unpaid wages or commissions must be paid within 24 hours or the employer will start to accrue a penalty. That penalty is a day’s wages or... Read More
AN EMPLOYEE IS ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS WHEN THE EMPLOYEE PERFORMS 50% OR MORE OF THEIR WORK IN MINNESOTA DURING THE BENEFITS QUARTER. An employer had two employees who performed work for the company in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. The employees were laid off and both applied for unemployment insurance benefits in Minnesota where they resided. The employees provided the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) with detailed records of their hours worked and in which state their services were performed. DEED determined that the employees were eligible for unemployment benefits for the quarters during which they “performed their... Read More
Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act
FIRING AN EMPLOYEE FOR REFUSING TO SHARE TIPS EXPOSES THE EMPLOYER TO A WRONGFUL DISCHARGE ACTION AND DAMAGES. An employer told an employee that he needed to share his tips with other employees. The employee refused, and the employer terminated his employment. The employee sued claiming that his employment was terminated in violation of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (MFLSA). The trial court ruled that the MFLSA did not contemplate an action for wrongful discharge and that if the Legislature intended for employees to sue for wrongful discharge it would have included that language explicitly in the MFLSA. The... Read More
INDEPENDENT CONSIDERATION IS REQUIRED IF A NON-COMPETITION AGREEMENT IS NOT ENTERED INTO AT THE BEGINNING OF OR ANCILLARY TO THE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP. A prospective employee applied for a part-time position with a company. The applicant was offered and accepted a full-time job. The employer sent a letter confirming the employee’s acceptance of the position but did not mention that it wanted the employee to sign a non-compete agreement. The employee was not given the non-compete agreement until her first day of work. The employee left several years later to start a competing business, and the employer sued claiming she was... Read More