Labor & Employment Law Update, May 2009






Employee States a Claim for Religious Discrimination for Refusing to Remove Nose Ring

By Bruce J. Douglas & Chris M. Heffelbower

Many employers have dress code and grooming policies in order to maintain control over their public image.  Employers have a legitimate interest in presenting a certain image and a legitimate interest in prohibiting certain dress items for safety reasons.  However, this legitimate interest is tempered by discrimination laws.  In particular, employers can get into trouble for discriminating based upon religion when they strictly enforce dress codes and grooming policies.  Continue

COBRA Update
By Mary L. Komornicka

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) introduced a new feature to the health insurance continuation program known as COBRA, the federal subsidy.  Under ARRA, individuals who have been involuntarily terminated from their jobs since September 2008 are eligible for a federal subsidy of 65% of the COBRA premium.  The subsidy provision was enacted on February 17, 2009 and required employers  to notify terminated employees since September 2008 about their eligibility for the subsidy by April 18, 2009.  Although the federal COBRA law applies only to employees with 20 or more employees, since Minnesota has a “mini-COBRA” law that mirrors most aspects of the federal law, the ARRA subsidy applied to even the smallest of Minnesota employers.   Most companies have completed this notification process with the assistance of their health insurance provider or COBRA administrator.  Continue

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) & Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA)
By Mary L. Komornicka

In recent years there has been a significant increase in interest in Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and a corresponding confusion between HSAs and Flexible Health  Savings Accounts (FHSAs or FSAs).  While both are a mechanism to pay health expenses with pre-tax dollars, there are significant differences between these two structures.  

Camera Phones Can Cause Employers Problems Protecting Their Trade Secrets

By Chris M. Heffelbower

From social networking websites to camera phones, employers cannot always keep up with the latest technologies.  While camera phones have been around for several years, they continue to cause problems for employers, particularly when employers have confidential and trade secret information they wish to protect.  Continue

E-Verify Contractor Rule Postponed Again

By Chris M. Heffelbower

E-Verify is an internet system that allows employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.  The use of E-Verify will be mandatory for certain federal contractors, but is voluntary for most other employers.  Continue

Workplace Preparation for H1N1 (“Swine Flu”)

 The following government websites provide current information regarding the Swine Flu:

Our Practice:

The Larkin Hoffman employment law team identifies and resolves workplace issues in this rapidly evolving and highly regulated area.  Our attorneys provide counsel and advice to employers.  We represent employers in state and federal courts and administrative agencies including the EEOC, MHRA, NLRB, OSHA and DOL.

Contact our Labor & Employment Attorneys: 
Dayle Nolan                     
Email 952.896.3275           
Christopher J. Harristhal  
Email 952.896.3312
Bruce J. Douglas  
Email 952.896.1569
Daniel J. Ballintine  
Email 952.896.3288
Chris M. Heffelbower    
Email 952.896.1543
Sejal Desai Winkelman     
Email 952.896.3325
Carrie L. Zochert    
Email 952.896.3353
Julia H. Halbach    
Email 952.896.3264
Peter A.T. Carlson  
Email 952.896.3239

L. Kathleen Harrell-Latham 
Email 952.896.1544

 Contact our Benefits Attorneys:


Todd I. Freeman
Email 952.896.3355 

Michael J. Smith 
Email 952.896.3270

Dayle Nolan
Email 952.896.3275

Bruce J. Douglas
Email 952.896.

Mary L. Komornicka
Email 952.896.3225

Chris M. Heffelbower
Email 952.896.1543          Attorneys             Firm News             Events

This alert is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates.  While the information provided in this publication is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.