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Chaska MN Employment Law Blog

Could promotion-related discrimination be in your workplace?

When it comes to promotion, employers usually say they want the best and brightest to manage and lead teams. They may also claim to want a diverse set of managers, as different life experiences mean more creativity and more out-of-the-box solutions.

In reality, many companies promote folks who look and act like the managers already present. In other words, straight, white males tend to receive promotions at the expense of women, minorities and those with nontraditional sexual orientations. The companies may not even realize what they are doing.

FAQs about pregnancy discrimination

Many working women become pregnant at some point. Due to the fact that pregnancy is so common, there are laws that protect working pregnant women from discrimination. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act is the main law that exists to serve this purpose.

If you are pregnant or think you may become pregnant soon, it is important for you to know how the PDA protects your rights in the workplace. Here are some answers to common questions about pregnancy discrimination. 

3 tips for taking action against a hostile work environment

You spend the majority of your time at work, so it should not be a place where you feel threatened or harassed. Unfortunately, many people face this type of treatment on a daily basis in their workplaces. 

A hostile work environment is defined as an environment in which sustained harassment or discrimination become so acute that an employee feels he or she has no other choice but to resign to avoid the hostile treatment. There are federal laws that protect employees from this type of work environment. If you find yourself in this situation, you should explore your rights under the law. Here are three tips to help you take action against a hostile work environment: 

Why female bosses may seem to treat women unfairly

Having more female leaders in the workplace is a good thing, and studies show that it tends to lead to overall decreases in gender bias with a company. That said, some work environments are more toxic than others. In such situations, female bosses could be more likely to discriminate against female employees.

For example, take an environment in which there are 10 male managers and only one female manager. That woman is likely always hyper-aware of the moves she makes, may be constantly compared with her male peers in a negative way and may feel like she is the "token" or "queen bee" female at the top. In turn, she may view attempts by female employees to learn more and to become better at their jobs as starting the early stages of a plan to unseat her. Meanwhile, she might not have this problem with male employees. That said, it can be surprising to find out that perhaps a female boss is not discriminating after all.

Waitresses – and waiters – often experience sexual harassment

Your serving job can be fast-paced, social and fun, and the tips can help you make ends meet while you go to school or work your way up through the industry. However, as you might already understand, you and other Minnesota employees who work in the food service industry may be prime targets of unwanted sexual advances and other such behaviors.

You might not realize just how prevalent sexual harassment is in food service. Up to 90 percent of survey respondents who work in the food service industry reported they had been sexually harassed on the job. These included male servers as well as female. Anyone can be subjected to sexual harassment in any industry; however, servers are especially vulnerable to this type of treatment. The following situations are just a few of those you might experience at work:

  • Your boss may require you and other female servers to wear sexually suggestive uniforms and inform you that flirting and putting up with advances from customers is just a part of the job.
  • Customers may feel entitled to touch you without permission or make lewd comments or suggestions in return for tipping.
  • Your own co-workers or managers might make advances toward you or tell crude jokes that make you uncomfortable.
  • There might be crude or offensive material posted in the breakroom or other areas where employees frequent.
  • If you stand up for yourself or your co-workers who are being sexually harassed, you could face discipline or lose your job.

Is your MN employer retaliating against your medical leave?

Getting time off work can be a struggle, especially if you work in an hourly wage job or a service job with shift work. The struggle to get time off becomes even more complicated when you suffer an injury that requires more than just a day or two away from your job.

In Minnesota, as in the rest of the United States, federal law requires employers to grant certain categories of employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid medical leave for specific circumstances. Some employers retaliate against employees over their medical leave under this federal law, known as the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. Read on to learn more about FMLA and see if it applies in your case.

Why "hostile work environment" can be misleading

One definition of hostile, according to, is "not friendly, warm or generous." So, if your boss and co-workers are jerks, it may seem appropriate to say you have what is called a "hostile work environment."

However, be careful about using that phrase, especially if you decide to elevate an issue to human resources or management.

4 examples of employer retaliation

It is against the law for your employer to punish you for complaining about discrimination, reporting harassment, filing a workers' compensation claim or blowing the whistle on illegal activity. However, you may not exactly know what illegal retaliation looks like. 

Employers take retaliative action in many ways. In order to help you identify illegal employment punishment, here are some examples. 

Types of workplace discrimination in Minnesota

There are various types of harassment and workplace discrimination that are illegal under Minnesota law. If you believe you have experienced workplace harassment or discrimination at your place of employment in Minnesota, it can be helpful for you to explore the types of discrimination that are unlawful in the state.

The following list is not exhaustive but can give you some preliminary information about the most common types of workplace harassment and discrimination claims in Minnesota. This information may help you determine whether you may have a case for a lawsuit, and if so, whether you wish to consult with an attorney to explore your options.

Discrimination women face in the workplace

Many times, for women, the focus of discrimination at work is on sexual harassment, gender inequality and maternity leave. While these are certainly pertinent for you as a female employee, they are not the only forms of discrimination you may face at your job.

There are additional ways your employer may discriminate against you as a woman. Knowing what they are can help you recognize when it is happening so you can take legal action to end it.