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The Power 30

The POWER 30: Paul Zech

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In 1984, about 6,000 nurses in Minnesota went on strike for 38 days. It was the largest nurses strike in American history until 2010, when they again went on strike. That was the next strike to be the largest in U.S. history. In 2016 nurses struck again and were out for 37 days, one day short of the 1984 strike.

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The POWER 30: Joni Thome

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As pandemic shutdowns occurred, companies began to lay off employees. One company laid off five men at the same time. They just happened to be the oldest employees and those with real or suspected health conditions.

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The POWER 30: David E. Schlesinger

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David E. Schlesinger is the proud son of Robert Schlesinger, who was described in a magazine article in the 1970s as “typical of the new breed of liberal, courageous lawyers … long of hair, long on guts.” The civil rights lawyer instilled a similar ethic in his son, a member of Sen. Paul Wellstone’s campaign when the senator’s plane crashed. Persuaded by Wellstone’s commitment to the “little guy,” he decided to focus on individual plaintiffs, in another branch of civil rights, employment law.

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The POWER 30: Lawrence Schaefer

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Lawrence Schaefer launched his employment discrimination career by working on the iconic Minnesota case Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., decided in 1997, the first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States. The class was certified by Judge James Rosenbaum. After a special master awarded the members, whom he called “histrionic,” about $10,000 each, the 8th Circuit reversed and the case subsequently settled for $3.5 million. The appellate court characterized the harassment as “egregious, to say the least.” The opinion clarified that the defendant takes the victim as he finds her when it comes to assessing damages.

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The POWER 30: Penelope Phillips

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The complexity of the employment law field is aptly explained by the lists of practice areas on the Minneapolis firm of Felhaber Larson’s website. It covers the field from the Americans with Disabilities Act to wrongful termination. It explains why representing employers is starting to involve more advice and training and somewhat less litigation, according to Penelope Phillips. Focusing on compliance is the “preventive medicine” approach to the law, she said.

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The POWER 30: Michael Moberg

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Historically, cultural or social uncertainty has increased interest in labor unions. Uncertainty marks the United States as it deals with a deadly pandemic, business shutdowns, unemployment, and the task of getting restarted again. So it isn’t surprising to Michael Moberg that now is the time for a push by organized labor, with the support of a like-minded president.

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The POWER 30: Nicholas May

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Despite Gov. Tim Walz’s explicit executive orders requiring working from home during the pandemic, some employees are subject to pressure from employers to return to the workplace. Minneapolis attorney Nicholas May is in the prelitigation stage of a case over a pretty blatant directive to return.

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