Minnesota Client Alert
Legal News for Minnesota Employers
October  2016
Election Day is fast approaching - Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Like most states, Minnesota has a law that protects employees' rights to be absent from work for a sufficient amount of time to be able to vote. Under the Minnesota law, employees have the right to "be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee's polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work on the day of the election." Obviously the amount of time each employee may need depends on the employee's commute to/from work and their individual polling places, which may vary considerably. Companies cannot interfere with this right, nor deduct from an employee's pay, vacation or PTO because of the absence. Previously this right was limited to a reasonable time off work the morning of the election, but this was changed to allow for flexibility (for employers and employees alike) for the necessary time off to be taken at differing times throughout Election Day.

Employers unaware of this law run the risk of violating it (a misdemeanor under the law, subject to prosecution by the county attorney). However, from our experience it is more likely that employers who do not understand their rights and plan accordingly, wind up having large segments of their workforce being absent simultaneously on Election Day, or having employees miss far more work than should be necessary to cast a vote and return to work. In one case in a previous election year, an employer with a unionized workforce was told by the union representative that Minnesota law gave employees the day off to vote, with full pay - wrong! Therefore employers are well-advised to know what the law requires and what they, too, can require of their employees. With just a little planning and communications with employees in advance of this year's Election Day, employers can work with employees to allow them to vote in the election, without adversely impacting operations.

For more details on the requirements of Minnesota's employee voting rights, best practices advice for employers, and a sample Election Day Memorandum designed to mitigate workplace disruptions, click here
James B. Sherman
1. Employer Contesting Recently Fired, Gun-Toting Former Employee's Presence at Union Election Site, Must Prove it Actually Affected Outcome of Election.
Those who are unfamiliar with how the NLRB conducts union elections, might be surprised to learn just how particular its procedures are. Employee notices of election information - date/time/location - must be posted in advance; Board Agents are present for on-site elections; and each side is entitled to have an observer present during voter registration, to challenge the eligibility of someone attempting to vote. However, neither union officials/business agents, nor the employer's management, are allowed in the polling area out of concern their presence might interfere with employee choice. However, these concerns do not seem to square with a recent, and very disturbing, NLRB decision that certified the results of an election despite objections to the union's selection of a former employee to serve as its observer at the polls who days earlier had been fired for brandishing a replica handgun at work!

Our annual, multi-state super seminar on all things labor and employment law for business owners, human resources professionals, accountants, attorneys, etc. Will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel at the Mall of America on Friday, April 28th, 2017
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Did You Know?
Wessels Sherman has well-staffed offices with experienced attorneys to assist with our readers' legal needs in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa too. Businesses with operations/matters in these states are encouraged to call any of our attorneys for assistance. Additionally, Wessels Sherman attorneys regularly work with other lawyers as a highly cost-effective and trusted co-counsel and local counsel. Referrals are always appreciated and respected.