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It’s Menards, Not Womenards: Fridley Store Fined for Breaking Lactation Law

And that's not even the biggest wage theft story of the week! Plus women in the workforce and Dean's dismal campaign event in today's Flyover news roundup.

1:21 PM CST on January 9, 2024

Mike Kalasnik via Flickr|

OK fine, that’s a Menards in Illinois. As if you could tell!

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

That's One Way to Save Big Money

Just a reminder: According to the law here in Minnesota and nationally, employers must give lactating workers reasonable paid break time to pump. That news must not have made it to the Menards in Fridley; KSTP reports that the company will pay back wages and a fine after deducting pay from a worker who took breaks to express milk. That employee will also receive damages to compensate her for three days during which she was suspended in retaliation for asserting her workplace rights. As part of a consent order signed in December, the Wisconsin-based home improvement chain has also agreed to a statewide audit of its stores, the results of which it must report to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, and to update its policy handbook to reflect the terms of the Women’s Economic Security Act.

Speaking of Wage Theft...

And, I suppose, speaking of milk: This one's big. A Minnesota dairy farm is facing a $3 million wage theft lawsuit, reports Max Nesterak at the Minnesota Reformer. Evergreen Acres Dairy allegedly robbed hundreds of immigrants, many of whom are undocumented, and took additional money from their paychecks for filthy and overcrowded "housing" in garages and barns. (The Reformer has photos of the housing taken from the civil complaint, the details of which, as Nesterak writes, "read like they were ripped from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.") According to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the Paynesville dairy farm, owned by Keith Schaefer and daughter Megan Hill, didn't keep employment records and destroyed or falsified other records, and Schaefer is accused of physically assaulting workers and threatening to kill an employee, among other things. Sounds like a real cool guy.

And Speaking of Women in the Workforce...

I enjoyed this column from Amy Gage at the Minnesota Women's Press, in which she reflects on nearly 40 years as a "woman in business." Today, Gage is the managing editor of Streets.mn and executive director of Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County; the ex-PiPress biz columnist remembers trying to blend in, keep family talk out of the office, and speak in bullet points "so the men in charge wouldn’t get bored with women’s backstories" in 1982. And also:

Not objecting—or even thinking to file a complaint—when the publisher of the business newspaper announced as the staff was gathering for a meeting that "we were just talking about Gloria’s breasts." Gloria was a saleswoman, and she (and I, and the handful of other women in the room) just stood there. Mute.

Yikes! A good reminder of how far we've come, even if we've got a long way to go yet at the Menards of the world.

Field of Deans

If you're among the miserable souls still languishing on Twitter/X, you've almost certainly seen this tweet making the rounds:

It's giving Sad Ben Affleck, right down to the un-enjoyed Dunkin'. Perhaps voters were confused by the inscrutable word salad that is "Government Repair Truck Coffee Conversations"? His campaign's Twitter account later replied, "So we decided to meet with them indoors instead!" but, well, I don't see any "voters" there, do you? Anyway...

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