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February 2014 Archives

Getting the Story Straight

As much as everyone hopes that an employee will always be the right fit for a job, sometimes employers need to discharge a worker. And unless doing so breaks a contract or is based on some unlawful reason (such as illegal discrimination), the dismissal will usually withstand any legal challenge. One of biggest mistakes an employer can make, though, is giving inconsistent reasons for dismissing the employee. This is because inconsistent reasoning hurts the employer's credibility and can lead a court to find that the stated reason was really a pretext to cover up unlawful discrimination. For example, in one recent case (Barnhart v. Regions Hospital) where a former employee claimed her firing resulted from unlawful discrimination, the employer claimed the real reason was her poor attendance and her failure to call in when she was going to be late or absent. However, other evidence suggested that the employer terminated her because of company restructuring. The judge ruled that this inconsistency called into question the true reason for the employee' termination, and he ordered that the case would need to go trial where the true reason for the dismissal would have to be decided by a court. Had the employer given a consistent explanation, the case likely would have been dismissed. For more information about employment law, please contact me at: [email protected]. The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney. Copyright 2014 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

Ban the Box

One of the more challenging aspects of hiring can be knowing when and how to conduct a criminal background check on a potential employee. In another article I noted how asking for such information during the application process is generally a good idea. However, a recent change in the law now prohibits Minnesota employers from inquiring into an applicant's criminal history until after the candidate is selected for an interview, or if there is not an interview, after a conditional job offer has been made to the candidate. In essence, this change now bans the "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" box on all Minnesota job applications.

Prepare for your estate plan

Preparing before you meet with an estate planning attorney can save you time, money, and, equally as important, help ensure your wishes are properly addressed.  Preparing also allows you to get a better grasp of what your needs and goals are financially.  Although the attorney should help you with ideas, meeting your wishes is the goal.  As with most anything, the more thought you give it beforehand, the easier it will be.As an estate planning attorney, my job is to make sure your assets go where they need to go upon your death or incapacity and that they do so in a manner that is efficient and as cost effective as possible.  Preparation really boils down to two issues: what is your “estate” and where do you want it to go upon your death?An estate consists of anything that could be considered either an asset or a liability you may own.  This includes, among other things, joint interests in a home or business, bank accounts and investments, life insurance, and personal property.  Useful information includes a rough estimation of net worth, a list of current beneficiaries, current obligations, current investments, and financial goals.Beneficiaries are equally as important.  Do you want to give to charities? to children?  Do you want equal divisions?  Are you accounting for any assets your beneficiaries may be receiving as a result of a pay-on-death designation on a bank account?  Having your goals in mind ahead of time goes a long way in saving time and money.If you have questions about estate planning or would like to meet with an attorney, please call  at 320-763-3141 or contact us online.

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