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Chaska MN Employment Law Blog

The problem with subtle forms of discrimination at work

In today's world of high political awareness and activism, more and more people are standing up against discrimination and promoting fair treatment to everyone in every way at every place. Most companies have jumped on board, training managers and employees to avoid discrimination lawsuits and create a more welcoming work environment.

Furthermore, laws are in place that protect citizens against discrimination. Yet even with these changes and securities, discrimination still happens. Overt forms are decreasing, but you may still face challenges in experiencing and fighting unfair treatment due to subtler forms of discrimination

Fewer company holiday parties due to sexual harassment concerns

If your workplace is hosting a party this holiday season, you may feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Perhaps you look forward to letting loose with your co-workers without worrying about work. Maybe you are not sure what to get for your secret Santa recipient. You may even be dreading running into the person who keeps hitting on you, especially if there will be alcohol at the celebration.

Unwelcome sexual advances and discussions are never okay in any workplace environment, even if it is a party. According to a CNBC report, more employers are refusing to hold holiday parties to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. Even employers who decide to have a celebration have chosen to forego providing alcohol. Workplaces are trying to avoid creating a situation where inappropriate incidents may happen. If your employer is still throwing a party this year, here are some tips for recognizing and responding to inappropriate behavior.

What is wrongful termination?

One issue many employees do not have a full understanding of is Minnesota’s at-will employment policies. Under the law, employees can leave their jobs for any reason they want, and employers can fire them for most reasons without consequence. Working as an at-will employee does not mean workers do not have any job protection. Though the law gives employers the right to terminate employees whenever they want for any reason, they cannot violate the employee's rights to do so. 

Keep in mind that all employers do not follow the law when firing workers. Wrongful terminations happen every day in Minnesota and across the country. For an employee termination to be unlawful, several factors must be present. 

Protections for harassment victims mitigate risks of reporting

Workplace harassment is a factor in every industry, but not all employees are comfortable speaking up about the harassment they experience at work.

The potential outcomes of exposing harassment may seem negative, based on the risks of reporting illegal behavior. However, there are also risks related to keeping it quiet. 

4 signs of wrongful termination

Losing your job is a frustrating and often demoralizing experience. Reading a letter or having a meeting with your boss and learning you are getting fired is never fun. You may even feel like the process is unfair.

Did you know that there are certain illegal actions an employer can take when firing employees? Your employer may be acting unlawfully. If that is the case, you could file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Here are some signs your firing may be wrongful.

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.