Posted May 12th, 2014 in Legal Insights
Minnesota: Where the Women are Strong – and the Workplace Protections are More Favorable Than Ever
Parental leave doubled in length. More space and schedule accommodations for nursing mothers. Protection against discrimination on the basis of familial status. Freedom for workers to disclose their wages as they choose. Caps on government contracts to businesses who can’t certify they have implemented equal pay practices. These are just some of the changes in the Minnesota bill entitled the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), which was signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton on May 11 (Mother’s Day). Nilan Johnson & Lewis attorney Lisa Schmid, who was not involved in the legislation but regularly advises companies on employment legalities including assorted leave-related issues, describes the law as unique in its comprehensiveness and adds that WESA may mark Minnesota’s place as one of the most employee-friendly states in middle America, putting it more on par with coastal states like California or Washington. “The expansion of the scope of workplace discrimination to cover workers’ familial status is one of the more unique aspects of WESA,” says Schmid. “It creates an entirely new protected class that is not recognized under federal and most state laws.” She adds that employers will have their work cut out for them to comply with all WESA provisions, which could include: revamping offices, revising policies and handbooks, providing additional employee training, reviewing pay practices, and likely paying costlier overall attorneys’ fees to settle or litigate disputes. Contact Lisa Schmid at (612) 305-7549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.