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Minnesota resident rights under the Women's Economic Security Act

The Women's Economic Security Act (WESA), also known as HF2536, was first drafted into law in Minnesota in 2014. The main objectives that the authors, who drafted this bill, had was to strengthen the rights of both women and families in the workplace and to address gender gaps in pay.

As far as the expansion of family leave is concerned, the ratified version of WESA now ensures that both pregnant and postpartum moms can take unpaid leave in accordance with the state's Parental Leave Act. Additionally, after a baby is born, she is now allowed to spend as much as 12 weeks at home taking care of her newborn.

It additionally requires that all employers with at least 21 employees on staff provide alternative options for heavy items to be lifted, food and water options and variable seating to pregnant employees. Under WESA, employers are required to give nursing moms necessary breaks to properly express their breast milk as well.

The bill also addresses gender-based wage discrepancies. One provision is directed at all companies at least 40 employees that wish to land a $500,000 or more contract with the state government. In order to qualify for one, they must first demonstrate that their own employees are consistently paid equally for the same job, regardless of gender.

WESA also paves the way for workers to openly discuss their pay with their employers without having to fear being retaliated against. As for an employee's accrued sick leave, it also affords grandparents to take it if their grandchild falls ill or is hurt. Employees can also take it to care for an in-law or to recover physically or mentally from a sexual assault, domestic violence or having been a victim of stalking.

Finally, it required that the state minimum wage be increased to $9.60 per hour by 2016. Additionally, any employee without access to an employer-provided retirement plan was to be provided with a list of alternatives that they could perhaps take advantage of in the private sector instead.

If you sense that your employer hasn't abided by all of the different provisions afforded to you under WESA, then you may benefit from discussing potential legal remedies available to you to pursue with a St. Paul, Minnesota, employment law attorney.

Source: Women's Economic Security Agenda, "Women's Economic Security Act: Summary of the act," accessed Sep. 22, 2017

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