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Worker denied sick time will get $11,000 for lost wages – the first settlement under Minneapolis law

It's the first retaliation case settled under Minneapolis' time off requirement law.

A Minneapolis worker who was denied time off after requesting sick time from his employer will be paid $11,000 in a settlement – the first case of retaliation the city has settled since the new requirement went into effect.

The employee worked at a gas station, and the business "strongly discouraged" its workers from using sick leave, the city said in a news release Friday. The employee became sick and asked for time off, but was denied, then banned from the property and taken off the work schedule.

"He effectively lost his job," the city said.

(Note: The gas station and worker are unnamed by the city – a data request for documents related to the case has been submitted by GoMN.)

The worker lives paycheck to paycheck, and as a result of the gas station's actions was unable to cover rent, the city said. He was evicted and moved in with family members.

He reported a violation to the City of Minneapolis in the fall of 2016. Since that time, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights reached a settlement with the gas station.

  • The worker will get $11,000 in lost wages;
  • The department will monitor the business to ensure it's following city time off laws;
  • And Civil Rights staff will offer training to the employees and management there.

New Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement the city's Department of Civil Rights has his "full support" in following up on reports of violations such as this.

“The quickest way to erode public trust is to fail to enforce a policy that people helped shape and that the City promised to implement," he said. "Our Civil Rights Department is fully committed to enforcing the landmark policies that help boost health and safety for people who live and work in our city."

The city said the supervisor who denied the worker time off isn't with the company any more.

The sick and safe time law

Any business that operates in Minneapolis has to offer what the city calls "sick and safe time." It covers all employees, including full-timers, part-timers, temp workers, and paid interns.

The policy – a signature proposal of former mayor Betsy Hodges – passed in May of 2016, and became law on July 1, 2017.

The city had estimated that more than 100,000 people working in Minneapolis would benefit. Proponents also said those workers that previously did not have access to time off were disproportionately low-wage employees and people of color.

Workers accrue the time off at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked (or faster, if a business wants to up the rate).

Businesses with more than five employees have to offer it paid, while places with five or fewer workers may offer the time off as unpaid.

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