Equal Pay Certificate
Beginning August 1, 2014, businesses with 40 or more full-time employees entering into contracts valued in excess of $500,000 with the State of Minnesota must have an equal pay certificate. Businesses may apply for an equal pay certificate by paying $150.00 and submitting an equal pay compliance statement to the Commissioner of Human Rights that certifies:
- that the business is in compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Equal Pay Act of 1963, Minnesota Human Rights Act, and Minnesota Equal Pay for Equal Work Law;
- that the average compensation for its female employees is not consistently below the average compensation for its male employees within each of the major job categories in the EEO-1 employee information report for which an employee is expected to perform work under the contract, taking into account factors such as length of service, requirements of specific jobs, experience, skill, effort, responsibility, working conditions of the job, or other mitigating factors;
- that the business does not restrict employees of one sex to certain job classifications and makes retention and promotion decisions without regard to sex;
- that wage and benefit disparities are corrected when identified to ensure compliance with the laws cited in clause (1) and with clause (2); and
- how often wages and benefits are evaluated to ensure compliance with the laws cited in clause (1) and with clause (2).
In addition, the statement must indicate whether the business, in setting compensation and benefits, utilizes: (1) a market pricing approach; (2) state prevailing wage or union contract requirements; (3) a performance pay system; (4) an internal analysis; or (5) an alternative approach to determine what level of wages and benefits to pay its employees. If the business uses an alternative approach, the business must provide a description of its approach.
These requirements are codified at Minn. Stat. § 363A.44.
WESA mandates that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to an employee for health conditions related to pregnancy upon the employee’s request, with the advice of her licensed health care provider or certified doula, unless the employer demonstrates that the accommodation would impose undue hardship on the employer’s business.
An employee is not required to obtain the advice of her licensed health care provider or certified doula and an employer is not permitted to claim undue hardship for the following accommodations: (1) more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks; (2) seating; and (3) limits on lifting over 20 pounds. An employer may not require an employee to take a leave or accept an accommodation.
These requirements, which are effective immediately, are codified at Minn. Stat. § 181.9414.
Pregnancy and Parenting Leave
Under WESA, Minn. Stat. § 181.941 has been amended to require employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to an employee who is (1) a biological or adoptive parent in conjunction with the birth or adoption of a child; or (2) a female employee for prenatal care, or incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related health conditions. The length of the leave shall be determined by the employee, but must not exceed 12 weeks, unless agreed to by the employer. Previously, employers were required up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave, which did not include leave for pregnancy-related conditions.
Accommodations for Nursing Mothers
Under WESA, Minn. Stat. § 181.939 has been amended to require employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, other than a bathroom or toilet stall, to an employee that needs to express breast milk for her infant child. The room or other location must be “shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public” and must include access to an electrical outlet. Employers must continue to provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee that needs to express breast milk for her infant child.
Sick Leave and Care of Relatives
The new law amends Minn. Stat. § 181.9413 to allow employees to use personal sick leave benefits to care for the employee’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, and grandchildren. Under WESA, employees are now permitted to use sick leave for “safety leave” for the employee or a covered relative. “Safety leave” is defined as “leave for the purpose of providing or receiving assistance because of sexual assault, domestic abuse, or stalking.”
“Familial Status” Protected under MHRA
WESA expands the protections afforded under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), Minnesota statutes chapter 363A, by prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of “familial status.”
Familial status is defined as “the condition of one or more minors being domiciled with (1) their parent or parents or the minor's legal guardian or (2) the designee of the parent or parents or guardian with the written permission of the parent or parents or guardian.” Minn. Stat. § 363A.03, subd. 18. These provisions are effective immediately.
Wage Disclosure Protection
The new law, codified at Minn. Stat. § 181.172, prohibits employers from (1) requiring nondisclosure by an employee of his or her wages as a condition of employment; (2) requiring an employee to sign a waiver or other document which purports to deny an employee the right to disclose the employee's wages; or (3) take any adverse employment action against an employee for disclosing the employee's own wages or discussing another employee's wages which have been disclosed voluntarily.
WESA prohibits employees from disclosing proprietary information, trade secret information, or information that is otherwise subject to a legal privilege or protected by law without the written consent of the employer. Employees are also precluded from disclosing wage information of other employees to a competitor of their employer.
An employer that provides an employee handbook to its employees must include in the handbook notice of employee rights and remedies under this section.
An employer may not retaliate against an employee for asserting rights or remedies under this section.
An employee may bring a civil action against an employer for a violation of the new law.
The passage of WESA brings significant changes to Minnesota’s employment landscape. Employers need to be aware of these changes and adjust their employment practices accordingly.
This article was written by Michael J. Belaen. Michael serves as the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce’s (SPACC) director of public affairs and legal counsel. Prior to joining SPACC, Michael was a civil litigator. Michael is a cum laude graduate of Hamline University School of Law.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information only and shall not be construed as rendering any legal advice or opinion. An attorney-client relationship is not created by reading this article.