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  • U.S. Senate Approves LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill, but Challenges Remain in the House

    12/31/2013 / Andrew D. Moran

    On November 7, 2013, the United States Senate passed bill S.815, officially titled the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), by a vote of 64 to 32. If passed, ENDA would make it unlawful for employers with 15 or more employees to refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against employees or job applications because of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA also contains a provision which would prohibit discrimination based upon an employee’s association with an individual protected on account of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. 

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  • Centra Homes, LLC v. City of Norwood Young America: Disputes Over Building Permit Fees Not Ripe for Judicial Review

    11/12/2013 / Tamara O’Neill Moreland

    In July, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that disputes regarding building permit fees are not ripe for judicial review prior to exhausting the administrative remedy of appealing the fees to the Department of Labor and Industry (“DLI”), thereby eliminating district court jurisdiction over these disputes.  

    Centra requested that the City reduce its permit fees, alleging that the fees violated state law because they were not related to actual costs.  When the City refused to do so, Centra requested that the City provide its administrative procedures for Centra to pursue prior to bringing an action against the City.  The City’s attorney, with consultation from the Minnesota League of Cities, informed Centra that the City would “accept payment in escrow for the building permit fees, based on Minn. Stat. § 462.353.”  The City and Centra then entered into an agreement which allowed the fees to be paid into es

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  • Minnesota Tax Court Case Update – November 2013

    11/12/2013 / Timothy A. Rye

    In this edition of the Tax Court Case Update we have six cases of interest. The Supreme Court reminds us that a Tax Court decision without thorough explanation will be upheld as long as it does not provide a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. The Tax Court decided two shopping mall cases involving the percentage-of-sales method of valuation and in doing so provides a road map for how the percentage-of-sales method should be used. In a third shopping mall case the Tax Court holds that properties benefiting from cross parking easements should be valued as if they have sufficient parking on their own site. Finally, there are two Tax Court cases providing some additional insight into a Green Acres challenge and whether copies of leases must be disclosed.

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  • IRS to Allow up to $500 Carryover in Medical Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)

    11/07/2013 / Mary Komornicka and Bill Itskovich

    On October 31, 2013 the IRS modified the “use it or lose it” rule to allow carryover, limited to $500, of unused medical FSA funds into the next plan year. This carryover can not be used if the plan has a “grace period” that gives participants up to 2-1/2 months to spend the unused funds after the close of the plan year.  Also, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act implemented a $2,500 cap on employer sponsored medical FSA under §125 of the Internal Revenue Code effective in 2013. All employers are required to amend their medical FSA plans from an unlimited contribution to a maximum of $2,500 contribution per plan year by the end of the 2013 plan year. 

    Employers offering FSA plans will need to decide whether to modify their FSA plans to offer employees the carryover option or instead maintain their existing 2-1/2 month grace period and amend their plans, if necessary, prior to the end of the plan year.

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  • Reducing Your Brand’s Exposure to Liability

    11/01/2013 / Chuck S Modell

    Chuck Modell coauthored the article, Reducing Your Brand's Exposure to Liability, in the November 2013 issue of Franchising World.

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  • Employers Win Big in Recent Cases Against EEOC

    10/31/2013 / John Kvinge

    Two recent cases provide hope for employers facing class actions lawsuits by the EEOC.

    In EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa awarded the employer $4.7 million in attorneys fees, finding that the EEOC brought claims that were “frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.” The EEOC initially brought the claims for harassment on behalf of one plaintiff “and a class of [270] similarly situated female employees.” However, after the employer won a summary judgment motion with the court finding that the employer had not engaged in a “pattern or practice” of harassment, the EEOC was forced to attempt to prove individual claims of sexual harassment. The EEOC was not successful, and after a series of summary judgment motions, all of the individual claims were dismissed. The EEOC appealed, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that two of the individual claim

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  • Court Dismisses EEOC’s Disparate Impact Claims Based on Criminal Background and Credit Checks

    09/04/2013 / Andrew D. Moran

    In an opinion which sharply criticized the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s attempted use of statistics to support its discrimination claims based on criminal background and credit checks, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland granted summary judgment to Freeman, Inc. on the EEOC’s race and sex discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC v. Freeman, D. Md., No: 8:09-cv-02573, 8/9/13. The EEOC has taken the position that employers’ use of credit and conviction records in making employment decisions can have the effect of discriminating against minorities, and such information should be considered only in limited circumstances.   

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  • Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Supreme Court Finds Expansive Scope for First Sale Doctrine

    07/24/2013 / John A. Kvinge

    The Supreme Court previously held in Quality King Distributors v. L’anza Research Int’l, Inc. that the first sale doctrine covers the foreign sale of a work that was printed in the United States. The Supreme Court left unanswered whether a book that was both printed and sold abroad qualifies as a work “lawfully made under” the Copyright Act. In Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., the Supreme Court considered this question, and held that the first sale doctrine covers copyrighted works that are both printed and sold abroad.

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  • Supreme Court Defines “Supervisor” and Adds Protection to Employers from Title VII Hostile Work Environment Claims

    07/23/2013 / Daniel J. Ballintine and Martha Kramer

    On June 24, 2013, in a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court defined “supervisor” as it pertains to vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Vance v. Ball State University, No. 11-556, the Court held that to be considered a supervisor, an employee must have the authority to make tangible employment decisions, such as hiring and firing.

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  • U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Employers: Employees Must Prove Strict ‘But-For’ Causation to Establish A Title VII Retaliation Claim

    07/23/2013 / Daniel J. Ballintine and Armeen Mistry

    On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court decided, in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, that employees pursuing Title VII retaliation claims must prove the traditional “but-for” causation, instead of the relaxed “motivating factor” standard applicable to Title VII discrimination claims.

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  • Liability Waivers in Minnesota Governed By New Law Effective August 1, 2013

    07/23/2013 / Melissa L. Hagstrum

    Liability waivers for consumer services – including recreational activities – that waive liability for damage, injuries or death which result from “ordinary negligence" remain enforceable in Minnesota following the 2012 - 2013 legislative session. Though the Minnesota Legislature at one point considered proposals to make nearly all liability waivers unenforceable, the bill ultimately passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton is consistent with long-standing common law in Minnesota.

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  • No Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Court Holds Property Owner Cannot Rely on Cross-Parking Easement With Adjacent Shopping Center to Meet Parking Requirements for New Use

    07/11/2013 / Gary A. Van Cleve, Chair, Real Estate Litigation Department

    Many shopping center owners have reciprocal or cross-parking easement agreements with free-standing property owners located either within or adjacent to the shopping center parking lot. The Minnesota Court of Appeals held in a recent decision, reversing the district court, that the owner of the free-standing site cannot rely on a cross-parking easement agreement with a shopping center to meet city parking requirements for a new parking-intensive use on the free-standing site.

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  • Minnesota Tax Court Case Update: The New Era Begins

    07/11/2013 / Timothy A. Rye

    Here we have three tax court cases and one court of appeals decision: 1) argues for a motion in limine to exclude appraisal reports that use the larger-parcel appraisal theory; 2) argues for a dismissal of many because of non-payment of taxes by only a few; 3) a logical ruling regarding the all-too-common duplicate filing; and 4) the court of appeals reminds us of the balance between appraisal science, art, and judicial valuation decisions.

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  • Sexual Harassment Can Be Unlawful Even if Directed at Members of Both Sexes

    06/05/2013 / Andrew D. Moran

    The Minnesota Supreme Court recently considered this “equal opportunity harasser” defense, in Rasmussen v. Two Harbors Fish Co. d/b/a Lou’s Fish House, and held that former employees’ claims against their employer for hostile work environment sexual harassment may be advanced even where: (1) the sexually explicit conduct of the employers’ owner was directed at both males and females; and (2) the former employees did not experience any adverse employment actions in terms of promotions, pay or hours.

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  • Asset Buyer Held Liable for Seller’s Overtime Obligations

    05/31/2013 / Christopher J. Harristhal & Susan E. Tegt

    The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently held, in Teed v. Thomas & Betts Power Solutions, LLC, that a purchaser of the assets of a business subject to claims by employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) was subject to successor liability for those claims, even though the purchaser expressly disclaimed liability for the claims under the terms of the asset sale. 711 F. 3d 763 (7th Cir. 2013). The Teed decision is important to business owners who are considering an asset sale or purchase because any transfer of FLSA liability, like other potential labor relations and employment liabilities arising under federal law, is likely to have a significant impact on the successor’s assets. Teed advises purchasers to conduct an audit of potential and existing employee claims against the seller and to adjust asset purchase offers accordingly.

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  • New Minnesota Law: Employers Cannot Ask About Prior Convictions on Application

    05/31/2013 / John A. Kvinge

    Starting January 1, 2014, most employers will be prohibited from requiring applicants to disclose their criminal history on an initial employment application. This so-called “ban the box” legislation has applied to public employers in Minnesota since 2009, and was recently expanded to private employers by legislation signed by Governor Dayton on May 15, 2013.

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  • Supreme Court Denies Review on the Scope of the “Continuing Violation” Doctrine in Racial Bias Cases

    04/30/2013 / Andrew D. Moran

    On April 1, 2013, the United States Supreme Court declined to resolve a purported circuit split on the applicability of the “continuing violation” doctrine to allegations of systemic violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In denying the petition filed by several Asian American police officers employed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Court left intact a Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that “failure-to-promote” claims for discrete acts occurring outside of the limitations period were time barred and could not be saved by the continuing violation doctrine.

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  • Changes to Form I-9: Employers Required to Switch to New Version before May 7, 2013

    03/27/2013 / John A. Kvinge

    On March 8, 2013, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services released a new version of Form I-9, which employers must use to verify identity and employment eligibility for all new employees. All employers must begin using the new version of Form I-9 no later than May 7, 2013. 

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  • Update on the Family and Medical Leave Act

    03/08/2013 / Andrew D. Moran

    In February of 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued updated Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations and forms. The FMLA and its regulations were amended in January of 2009, and many employers updated their policies and forms at that time. In October of 2009, the FMLA was amended once again, but updated regulations and forms were not issued until last month. The new regulations took effect on March 8, 2013, and are summarized in this article.

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  • 20-Year Delay in Asserting Claim for Correction of Inventorship Does Not Result in Laches

    02/28/2013 / John A. Kvinge

    A Federal Circuit case in the last few months addressed the question of whether the six-year period for the presumption of laches begins running prior to the issuance date of the patent, if the unnamed inventor should have known prior to issuance that he or she was not named as an inventor in the patent application. The case, Hor v. Chu, Case No. 2011-1540, involved a patent for high-temperature superconducting materials.

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Showing Results 181 - 200 of 622