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Employment & Labor Law

Judicial Law
Due process; failure to exhaust remedies.

The director of a wellness program at the University of Minnesota failed in his assertion of violation of procedural due process after he was investigated for a complaint of sexual harassment. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank in Minnesota, ruled that the claimant did not exhaust his administrative remedies to entitle him to injunctive relief. Raymond v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Minn., 847 F.3d 585 (8th Cir. 2017).

Reprisal claim; poor performance bars lawsuit.

The general manager of a fast food store in Vadnais Heights lost his discharge case based upon alleged retaliation under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, because the record reflected that the employer’s dissatisfaction with his job performance preceded any protected activities by the manager. The 8th Circuit, affirming a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen in Minnesota, also ruled that there was no genuine issue of material fact whether the termination was pretextual, which warranted granting summary judgment. Sieden v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. 846 F.3d 1013 (8th Cir. 2017).

FMLA, retaliation claims; insufficient evidence of pretext.

An employee who claimed discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act and retaliation under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) had the claims dismissed on grounds that there was insufficient evidence that his termination, due to poor performance, was pretextual. The Minnesota Court of Appeals, upholding a decision of the Ramsey County District Court, ruled that a supervisor statement provided some “weak” evidence of discriminatory motive, but there was insufficient evidence that the determination was pretextual in light of the poor work performance, and there was no evidence that other employees were treated more favorably in light of the two customer complaints against him. Clarke v. Northwest Respiratory Servs., LLC, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 93 (8th Cir. 01/30/2017) (unpublished).

Sex and age discrimination; claims dismissed, sanctions reversed.

A claim by a Minnesota Department of Commerce employee of sex and age discrimination due to her dismissal was properly dismissed, although sanctions imposed against her attorney were reversed. The appellate court upheld the determination by the Ramsey County District Court that there was insufficient evidence of pretext, but sanctioning her attorney constituted an abuse of discretion and was overturned. Kandt v. Minn. DOC, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 101 (8th Cir. 01/30/2017) (unpublished).

Unemployment compensation; “medical necessity” inapplicable.

An employee who quit her job due to a medical condition was denied unemployment compensation benefits on grounds that the “medical necessity” provision of the unemployment compensation law, Minn. Stat. §268.095, subd. 1(7), did not apply. The appellate court, upholding the decision of the Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED), held that the medical section provision did not apply because the employee had not requested an accommodation for her medical condition and her request for time off was granted before she quit. Johnson v. Viking Magazine Serv., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 104 (8th Cir. 01/30/2017) (unpublished).


Originally published in the Notes & Trends section of Bench and Bar's April 2017 edition