Q: What requirements must cities comply with when employing lifeguards?
LMC: There are certain federal and state laws you must comply with. For pools and splash pads, lifeguards must be at least 15 years old, have an American Red Cross swimming instructor certification or similar certification, and must be continually supervised by an adult who is 18 years of age or older. “Pool” in this context means swimming pools and water amusement parks, including wave pools, lazy rivers, play areas with waterfalls or sprinkler areas, and baby pools. But 15-year-old lifeguards may not work at the top of power-driven water slides and cannot work in any mechanical room or chemical storage areas, including areas where the filtration and chlorinating systems are housed. A lifeguard must be at least 18 years old to work in those areas. However, federal law allows 15-year-olds to do work that includes “the use of hand tools to clean the pool and pool area; and the testing and recording of water quality for temperature and/or pH levels, using all of the tools of the testing process including adding chemicals to the test water sample.”
For beaches, the general rule is that lifeguards must be 16 years old or older. This is so even though the minimum age for a pool lifeguard is age 15. State law requires that if a city provides lifeguards at a public beach, each lifeguard must be certified in first aid, and adult, child, and infant CPR; have American Red Cross lifeguard certification or the equivalent; and provide supervision of people while on duty.
Cities are not required to have lifeguards, but if they do, they must meet the above requirements. If they choose not to have a lifeguard, they must post a sign in plain view with letters at least four inches high that reads: “Warning—No Lifeguard on Duty” and in letters at least one inch high: “Children must not use the pool without an adult in attendance.”
Q: Are veterans entitled to a discharge hearing if they are still on probation?
LMC: Up until recently, veterans did not serve a probationary period in the strictest sense because they were still entitled to a discharge hearing even during the probationary period. Effective July 1, 2016, the law changed so that a city may require employees, including veterans, to complete an initial probationary period as defined under Minnesota Statutes, section 43A.16 (defined to be no less than 30 days, but not more than two years of full-time equivalent service). This means that during the initial probationary period, the veteran is not entitled to a discharge hearing. However, after serving an initial probationary period for a city, a veteran would not be subject to additional probationary periods such as for a promotion or new assignment. Thus, once the initial probationary period expires, a veteran may not be removed unless incompetency or misconduct is shown through a removal hearing.
Q: A local sports booster group has approached us about a beer tent for a festival. How should we handle this?
LMC: If an association is going to sell alcohol at any event, it must be a nonprofit organization and must obtain a liquor license from the city. State liquor laws do not require organizations that sell a limited amount of alcohol each year to have liquor liability insurance. However, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust suggests that any alcohol seller carry liquor liability coverage limits of at least $500,000, and strongly consider a higher limit of $1 million (to carry less coverage effectively means leaving a significant financial risk unfunded). Cities should also require at least some of the association members to complete alcohol server training.
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