New Legislation with a Significant Impact on Employers and the Workplace

Posted Jan 8, 2013

On May 12, 2014, the Minnesota Legislature enacted the Women’s Economic Security Act, aimed at reducing the gender pay gap and improving conditions for women in the workplace. Among other changes, the Act mandated a number of key changes that impact employers. It is recommended that employers consult with counsel to revise and update their employee handbooks and any other policies and procedures in order to ensure compliance with WESA.

  • Wage Disclosure Protection. Effective immediately, the Act protects an employee’s ability to discuss their wages with other employees. The Act prohibits employers from (1) requiring non-disclosure of wages as a condition of employment; (2) requiring that employees sign waivers, seemingly denying employees the right to disclose their wages; or (3) taking adverse employment action against an employee for disclosing his or her wages or discussing another employee’s wages, which were disclosed voluntarily. Additionally, the Act requires that an employer provide written notice to employees of their new rights and remedies under this provision.

  • Pregnancy, Parenting, Family, and Safety Leave. Effective August 1, 2014, for employers with 21 or more employees, the Act expanded mandated unpaid leaves of absence for biological or adoptive parent employees in conjunction with the birth or adoption of a child from 6 to 12 weeks. Additionally, the Act expands mandated employer provided sick leave benefits to include absences related to the illness or injury of grandkids as well as mothersand fathers-in-law. Finally, the Act expands sick leave to include safety leave, defined as absences related to providing or receiving assistance related to sexual assault, domestic abuse, or stalking.

  • Minnesota Human Rights Act Expanded to Include Familial Status. The Act expanded the list of protected classes under the Minnesota Human Rights Act to include “familial status,” defined as the condition of one or more minors living with the parent, the minor’s legal guardian, or the designee of the parent or parents or guardian, making it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on this classification.

  • Pregnancy and Nursing Mother Accommodations. The Act requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women, barring any undue hardship on the employer. Further, the Act mandates that employers make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women related to: (1) more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks; (2) seating; and (3) limits on lifting over 20 pounds. Finally, the Act requires that employers make reasonable efforts to accommodate nursing mothers.

  • Unemployment Benefit and Workplace Misconduct Protections. The Act creates or expands the unemployment benefit and workplace misconduct protections afforded to victims of sexual assault, domestic assault, and stalking.

  • Equal Pay Certificate. The Act requires certain state and local government contractors to periodically obtain a certificate of compliance with equal pay laws.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Act and its effect on your business and employment practices, please contact Kristy A. Saum, (612) 672-3795.

Messerli & Kramer’s experienced employment law attorneys are available to assist employers in navigating a variety of employment law issues and would be honored to help you.

This communication does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an attorney if you have questions.

Learn More about Messerli Kramer’s Attorneys Kristy A. Fahland
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