In previous posts, we have discussed changes enacted by the Minnesota legislature regarding employment law. The legislature also passed a number of bills which, although perhaps less significant than the ban on non-compete agreements, legalizing cannabis and providing paid sick and safe time, are still important for employers to know.
Minnesota now joins many other states in prohibiting employers from inquiring into a job candidate’s pay history for the purpose of determining salary and benefits. The law also protects applicants from discrimination if they refuse to provide past salary information upon employer request. This provision becomes effective July 1, 2023.
Pregnancy Accommodations and Additional Protection for Nursing Mothers
The legislature amended the statute which provides protection to nursing mothers by eliminating the requirement that break times for expressing breast milk apply only during the 12-month period after birth. The law also clarifies that although break times used for expressing breast milk can run concurrently with other breaks, it is not required that they do so. The current provision allowing employers to deny employees a break if it would “unduly disrupt operations,” has been eliminated.
Furthermore, the amendments expand pregnancy accommodations by adding longer restroom, food and water breaks to the list of accommodations that do not require a health care provider’s certification. The amendment also states that reasonable accommodations that should be considered include a temporary leave of absence, modifications of work schedules or job assignments, and providing more frequent and longer break periods.
An employer cannot discharge, discipline, penalize, interfere with, threaten, restrain, coerce, or otherwise retaliate or discriminate against an employee for asserting rights under this statute. Employers must also inform employees of their rights under these two laws at the time of hire or when an employee makes an inquiry about parenting leave. If the employer has an employee handbook, they must include a notice outlining the employee rights under this law.
These amendments become effective July 1, 2023.
Captive Audience Meetings
A new statute has been enacted which prohibits employers from holding mandatory meetings for the purpose of communicating their opinion on religious or political matters. This statute prohibits employers from threatening to take or taking adverse action against employees who refuse to attend these meetings or refuse to receive or listen to an employer communication if it concerns the employer’s opinion about religious or political matters.
The term “political matters” encompasses subjects related to “elections for political office, political parties, proposals to change legislation, proposals to change regulations, proposals to change public policy, and the decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal or labor organization.”
“Religious matters” refers to topics related to religious belief, affiliation, practice, and the decisions to join or support any religious organization or association.
The statute includes civil remedies and a right to bring a civil action. This law goes into effect on August 1, 2023. Laws such as this which have been enacted in other states have been challenged as violating the First Amendment and the supremacy clause of the Constitution. It should be expected that this law will also be challenged.
For Construction Employers
A new statute provides that construction contractors must assume liability for unpaid wages, fringe benefits, penalties and liquidated damages owed to an employee or former employee by a subcontractor at any tier. Further, the provision does not allow contractors, subcontractors, or their employees to contractually agree to circumvent this assertion of liability. Any efforts to release or transfer liability that is now assigned to a contractor will be null and void. Contractors retain the right to pursue actual and liquidated damages from a subcontractor who caused the contractor to pay damages.
This statute also provides that within 15 days of a request by a contractor, a subcontractor must provide payroll records which contain all information required under the statute, which includes sufficient information to apprise the contractor of the subcontractor’s payment of wages and fringe benefit contributions. This includes the names of all employees and independent contractors and local unions with which the subcontractor is a signatory to a collective bargaining agreement.
The statute contains an exemption for any contractor or subcontractor that is a signatory to a bona fide collective bargaining agreement with a building and construction trade labor organization that: 1) contains a grievance procedure for recovering unpaid wages on behalf of covered employees; and 2) provides for the collection of unpaid contributions to fringe benefit trust funds.
This law goes into effect August 1, 2023.
Pregnancy and Parenting Leave Act
Currently, the Minnesota Pregnancy and Parenting Act applies to employers with more than 15 employees and to employees who have been employed for at least 12 months for an average number of hours equal to one-half of the equivalent position. This statute is amended to revise these definitions so that the statute applies to all employees and to employers with one or more employees.
These amendments become effective on July 1, 2023.
Restrictive Franchise Agreements
- Franchisors are prohibited from restricting, restraining, or prohibiting franchisees from soliciting or hiring employees of other franchisees operating under the same franchisor.
- Franchisors are prohibited from restricting, restraining, or prohibiting a franchisee from soliciting or hiring employees of the franchisor.
No later than one year from the effective date, franchisors must amend existing franchise agreements to delete any contract provisions that violate this law or sign a memorandum of understanding with each franchisee that provides that any contract term that violates the law is void and unenforceable.
Employers who have questions about any of this new legislation should contact a Larkin Hoffman attorney.
To read more about the recent changes in Minnesota’s employment laws. Please visit Larkin Hoffman’s recent Labor and Employment blog posts: