What HR Needs to Know About the Women’s Economic Security Act

What HR Needs to Know About the Women’s Economic Security Act

July 3, 2014

By Julie A. Doherty (Retired)

On Mother’s Day 2014, Governor Dayton signed the Women’s Economic Security Act (“WESA”) into law. The law includes the following provisions, many of which require employers to update policies, including handbooks:

• Effective May 12, 2014: WESA adds a “familial status” as a protected class under Minn. Stat. § 363A, et seq. “Familial status” is defined as “the condition of one or more minors being domiciled with (1) their parent or parents or the minor’s legal guardian or (2) the designee of the parent or parents or guardian with the written permission of the parent or parents or guardian.”

• Effective July 1, 2014: For employers with 21 or more employees, pregnancy and parenting leave under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act is expanded from 6 to 12 weeks for eligible employees.

• Effective July 1, 2014: WESA allows nursing mothers to bring a civil action to enforce their right to express milk during breaks. Effective May 12, 2014: Employers with more than 21 employees must provide reasonable minor accommodations for privacy (not a bathroom) to express milk privately.

• Effective July 1, 2014: WESA creates Minn. Stat. § 181.172 to provide for wage disclosure protection. The new statute prohibits an employer from requiring that employees refrain from disclosing, comparing, or discussing information regarding their compensation. The employer is prohibited from taking any adverse employment action against employees for disclosing their own wages or another employee’s wages so long as the other person’s wages were disclosed voluntarily. Employers with employee handbooks must include a notice to employees of their wage disclosure protection rights and their remedies for a violation of Minn. Stat.§ 181.172, which include the right to seek back pay, reinstatement, restoration of lost service credit, and attorneys’ fees.

• Effective July 1, 2014: WESA expands support for employers; workforce organizations; and others to establish programs to increase the number of women in high-wage, and high-demand non-traditional industries.

• Effective July 1, 2014: WESA provides a “Safety Leave” and allows employees to use their sick leave for dealing with issues related to sexual assault, domestic violence, and/or stalking. WESA allows grandparents to use sick leave to care for an ill or injured grandchild and allows employees to use existing sick leave to care for a mother- or father-in-law.

• Effective August 1, 2014: In order to obtain a Minnesota contract worth more than $500,000.00, through Minn. Stat. § 363A.44, WESA requires a business employing more than 40 full time employees to certify that the business is in compliance with existing equal pay for equal work laws.

• Effective October 5, 2014: WESA expands eligibility for unemployment benefits if the employee had to quit his or her job due to stalking or sexual assault of either the employee or the employee’s immediate family member.

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Greg Spalj and Julia Douglass are updating the Minnesota Mechanics’ Lien Law section for the Debtor and Creditor seminar sponsored by Minnesota Continuing Legal Education. This seminar and written materials, including a form book, should be available this spring. If you would like information about this material contact Minnesota Continuing Legal Education or Greg Spalj at 612.359.7631 or gspalj@fwhtlaw.com.

Mark Becker was nominated to serve as the 2014-15 Secretary of the Minnesota State Bar Association Section of Construction Law, Jesse Orman was re-elected to the Construction Law Section’s Governing Council, and Matthew Collins will be serving as past-Chair of the Section’s Governing Council.

Dean Thomson, Mark Becker and Jesse Orman will be speaking on key issues, new terms, and emerging trends in the AIA Contracts at the Lorman Seminar on September 12, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For additional information, contact Mr. Thomson at 612.359.7624 or dthomson@fwhtlaw.com.

This discussion is generalized in nature and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. © 2014 FWH&T