Knowing Employment Law

by Rachel Vilsack

Questions about “is it legal for my employer to…” come in frequently to the Labor Market Information Office. While we are experts on helping people find career and job information, legal advice is best left to lawyers and experts in employment law. If you work in Minnesota, do you know your rights?


Employment law questions are often complex and depend on a number of factors. The Labor Standards Office at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry serves as a clearinghouse of information about wage, hour, and employment law issues in Minnesota. Areas of expertise include:

  • When does my employer have to pay me overtime?
  • I was just …fired/ laid off/job ended… when does my employer have to pay me?
  • Doesn’t my employer have to give me a break?
  • Do I have a right to see my personnel file?
  • My child wants to get a job. How old must he or she be to work?


Employers can also find information on the mandatory workplace posters that must be displayed, including workers’ compensation, health and safety and age discrimination.


The Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor also cover important employment information, including:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA), which “entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.”
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which “establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.”


Finally, the Department of Justice has information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is a civil right law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.”


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