Minnesotans recently celebrated Veterans Day, commemorating the end of World War I at locations such as Fort Snelling, cemeteries and other ceremonial sites around the state.
The recent holiday also serves as an important reminder of the various workplace protections that are available to veterans under state and federal laws. Under Minnesota state law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals because of their military status. In addition, a recently passed state law actually allows veterans to be given preferential treatment and states that granting such favoritism does not constitute a violation of any state or local anti-discrimination laws.
Of course, such protections afforded to veterans cannot be at the expense of observing other federal laws aimed at ensuring America's workplaces treat workers fairly and do not use discriminate by basing material employment decisions on certain protected categories, such as hiring or firing, or promotions.
In addition, the interpretation of employment discrimination laws also continues to evolve. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court is currently hearing a harassment case where there is dispute whether an immediate supervisor who did not have hiring, firing or other disciplinary authority over the employee can nevertheless be deemed a supervisor, for purposes of federal employment law.
Other courts around the country are grappling with the issues of whether social media accounts contain relevant information that must be disclosed to the opposing party in employment litigation.
Since the law continues to evolve, either through the passage of new laws or by clarifications of terms in existing statutes, the importance of consulting with an employment attorney as soon as you believe you are being treated unfairly in the workplace cannot be overemphasized.
Often, there is opportunity for an employee to collect evidence while still in the employment of the alleged harasser. An attorney will have an eye toward the evidence you will need to prove a claim of discrimination based on a protected category. An attorney can also advise you on your next steps, ensuring that you prepare the evidence you need to demonstrate to the jury how you were unfairly treated at work, as well as the recovery to which you are entitled.
Source: Star Tribune, "Business forum: Veterans armed with job protection," Marshall Tanick, Nov. 11, 2012