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President Trump Appoints MN Supreme Court Justice to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

On May 8th President Trump began nominating judges to fill more than 125 existing vacancies in the nation's federal courts. Among his first 10 nominees following the recent appointment of Justice Neal Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, is our own Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, whom the President nominated to a seat on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Assuming Judge Stras' appointment is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will continue to influence legal issues in Minnesota but on the federal level since the Eighth Circuit oversees the federal courts in Minnesota as well as Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and North and South Dakota. As would be expected, Judge Stras's nomination is supported by conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society (known for its "strict constructionist" position on how the laws and constitution should be interpreted by the courts). Judge Stras holds several degrees from the University of Kansas, including an MBA and JD. After teaching at the University of Minnesota Law School as an assistant professor, in 2010 then Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed him to a vacant seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court and he won re-election in 2012.

Wessels Sherman's 2017 Employer Empowerment Seminar in Minnesota is Another Big Success!

seminar1.jpgWessels Sherman's Minnesota office hosted the firm's annual labor and employment law seminar for employers, accountants, attorneys and other business professionals on April 28, 2017 at the beautiful Radisson Blu, Mall of America hotel. James Sherman, firm President/CEO and Founder/Managing Shareholder of our Minneapolis office, welcomed the room full of attendees who came from four different states and a broad spectrum of industries and fields. After delivering the day's first presentation on drastic changes taking place in workplace laws and regulations in 2017, Mr. Sherman served as moderator to introduce the many other presenters throughout the day. Special Guest Speaker Nick Rogers, President/CEO of Minnesota's newest major league sports team (and a lawyer who previously practiced in the private sector), regaled the audience with the fascinating story behind Minnesota United's mercurial rise from the lower division league, to one of the countries two MLS expansion teams in 2017, to breaking ground on a brand new, privately financed, soccer specific stadium in May of this year. The club's success story can be an inspiration to businesses of all sizes and industries!

Sick Time Safe Time Leave

Thumbnail image for Allison_Wells_Headshot.jpgIn 2016, both Minneapolis and St. Paul passed city ordinances requiring private employers to provide their employees with paid sick time / safe time. These ordinances, despite opposition in the courts and in the legislature, are set to go into effect on July 1, 2017. Minneapolis and St. Paul Employers should review the rules and prepare to make changes.

Not if, but when: Employers must plan for data breaches compromising employee records

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Allison_Wells_Headshot.jpgLast year U.S. companies and government agencies reported 1,093 data security breaches, a 40 percent increase from 2015. The high-profile breaches include the hacking that affected more than 1,000 Wendy's Co. chains in July 2016. Just last month, McDonald's Canada announced that data of 95,000 of its job applicants were compromised in a cyber-breach. But, it is not only cyber hacking that can cause security breaches for companies.

Fair Labor Standards Act Rounding Principles

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies may use "rounding principles," for employees' hours worked. The FLSA allows companies to round the employees' hours to the nearest quarter hour. But the problem becomes that companies don't implement the principles correctly. Companies violate the rounding principle by only rounding down, which will result in a wage and hour violation.

Chickens Come Home to Roost

As a number of Clients of the Firm would state, over the last ten (10) years, the author has been advising them to get out of/not participate in the Unions' Multi-Employer Pension Funds. It has long been the opinion of the author that this is a quasi-Ponzi Scheme and was destined for failure from the start. When half of the Trustees of such a Plan are Union Business Agents who have little, if any, financial background, how can actual and cogent financial guidance about investigating/managing millions of dollars be provided? The author had the privilege in the early 80's to serve as a Trustee of a Multi-Employer Pension Plan in California and got out of the Trustee Position because of the stupidity of the day-to-day Administration of the Pension Plan and its investment strategy. As an aside, the next time the author negotiated a contract with the Union that had that Pension Plan in it (Retail Clerks Union - Northern California), he got the Client out of the Plan prior to the creation of MEPPA in 1989.

IDES Audits: Sometimes Unpleasant Surprises!

This article is being written as a cautionary tale for readers who are interested in how to have a good outcome in an Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) audit, especially where independent contractors (1099 workers) are at issue.

Illinois Employers - Liable for Criminal Acts of Supervisors?

While the liability of employers in the State of Illinois has been expanded substantially by recent amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act and the recent decision of the US District Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in the Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana (Case No. 15-1720), which was a landmark decision holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, there have been few, if any, cases in which Illinois employers have had to bear the responsibility for the criminal conduct of their employees. Unfortunately, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently issued a decision (March 24, 2017) in the Case of Sherry Anicich v. Home Depot USA, Inc.; Grand Service, LLC and Grand Flower Growers, Inc. (Case No. 16-1693). The Federal Court, acting and applying Illinois law, found that the joint employers were liable for the criminal acts of a supervisor (Brian Cooper - Regional Manager) in his rape and murder of Alisha Bromfield.

Politics and Religion in the Workplace - "Backlash Discrimination" of Muslims and Middle Eastern Employees

Fear, emotionally charged perspectives on the Trump administration's immigration policy and deeply embedded religious views are all topics ripe for disagreements possibly escalating into use of slurs, threats and insults. The workplace, where many of us spend the majority of our weekdays, is one place where these agreements may percolate to a dangerous boiling point.

ACA FAQ of the Month: The American Health Care Act is Dead(?)

On March 24, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan cancelled a scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act ("AHCA"), a proposal to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, because it lacked enough support to pass. So, where does this leave the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? That's such a good question; if you know, please let me know ASAP.

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