To understand employment law in Minnesota, it’s crucial to understand the Whistleblower Act. If you aren’t already familiar, the Minnesota Whistleblower Act prohibits the discrimination or termination of an employee when:
- The employee reported a violation or suspected violation of a federal or state law, rule, statute, or regulation.
- The employee is asked to participate in an investigation, hearing, or other inquiry.
- The employee refuses an employer’s order to perform an act that the employee believes violates a federal or state law, regulation, or rule.
This article will explore the common consequences faced by whistleblowers and the protection the Minnesota Whistleblower Act provides. If you’re facing retaliation at work for one of the reasons listed above, it’s essential to reach out to an experienced employment lawyer to help you with your case. Filing a claim is just the first step to getting the justice you deserve.
Consequences Faced by Whistleblowers
The Whistleblower Act exists to protect workers so that employees can report misconduct or illegal acts without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, employment lawyers see various cases in which actions are taken against an employee for reporting misconduct. The most serious is wrongful termination. Other cases might create an uncomfortable working environment when employees are denied a promotion or intimidated because of actions they’ve taken in the past.
Other adverse actions which often occur in whistleblower cases can include:
- Intimidation or harassment
- Reassignment affecting promotion prospects
- Reducing pay or hours
- Demotion or transfer
- Disciplinary actions
- Denial of benefits
- Denial of overtime or promotion
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Wrongful termination
Anyone facing one of the above discriminations in the workplace should reach out to a workplace attorney for legal advice on how to proceed. If you’re dealing with wrongful termination, there are some red flags to watch out for so that you can take action against your employer.
General Whistleblower Protection
There are several activities that employees cannot be discharged for or discriminated against, thanks to the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. To understand in more detail what these acts are, read the extensive list below.
The Whistleblower Act protection does not extend, however, to situations where an employee discloses information that they know to be false or that shows reckless disregard for the truth. An employment lawyer will not be able to argue a case if the employee acts in the wrong. Most whistleblower cases arise from situations such as the ones listed below.
- An employee reports a suspected or planned violation of federal, state, or common law. The disclosure is made in good faith to an employer, governmental body, or law enforcement.
- A public employee communicates study findings to a law enforcement official or government body.
- An employee is requested to participate in a hearing, investigation, or inquiry by a public body.
- An employee reports a situation in which the proper standard of care for health care services is not met by an organization, healthcare provider, or healthcare facility. The action places the public or an individual at risk of harm.
- An employee refuses to perform an action that they believe violates a state or federal law. The employee must inform their employer that they’re refusing because they do not want to break the law and not for other reasons.
- An employee in the classified service of state government communicates information relating to state services to a legislator or constitutional officer.
Those facing discrimination in the workplace due to one of the above acts should contact a lawyer right away. Even if you are doubtful that your situation is grounds for legal action, it never hurts to explore your options. The Minnesota Whistleblower Act is there to protect you and others who have dealt with retaliation in the workplace.
Additional Whistleblower Protection
There are other, more specific forms of protection that the Minnesota Whistleblower Act provides. These can all be found within the Minnesota Statutes. Continue reading to learn more.
Employees cannot be retaliated against for opposing a practice that is prohibited under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. They also cannot be retaliated against for filing a charge, participating in an investigation, or any of the other actions listed above.
Employees cannot be discharged or discriminated against for filing a complaint or testifying in an investigation under Minnesota’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Law. Employers may not discriminate based on sex in the payment of wages under this law.
Employees cannot be discriminated against or terminated after filing a complaint, participating in a proceeding, or testifying regarding violations of Minnesota’s minimum wage laws. Employers can be fined up to $3,000 for violations of the minimum wage laws.
Labor Relations Act
Employees may not be discharged or discriminated against in retaliation for filing a petition, complaint, or affidavit under the Minnesota Labor Relations Act. This act also covers employees who give information or testimony.
Occupational Safety and Health
Employees cannot be terminated or discriminated against for testifying in a proceeding, filing a complaint, or exercising their rights regarding occupational safety and health standards violations. Employees are also protected from retaliation after refusing to perform a task that would lead to the danger of severe physical harm or death.
Employees cannot be retaliated against after reporting suspected mistreatment of vulnerable adults. Vulnerable adults are often targets of abuse due to mental or physical disability or dependency on institutional services.
Employees cannot be retaliated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Filing a Claim After Retaliation
How you file a claim after retaliation will depend on your specific situation. It’s best to reach out to an employment lawyer for advice on how to proceed. Typically, an employee may file a lawsuit in the appropriate court. For most wrongful termination claims and other retaliatory action, the timeframe is within two years.
If you are facing workplace discrimination or dealing with the aftermath of wrongful termination, it’s crucial to know your rights under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. Often, those who bring attention to violations may face retaliation, as explored in this article. Knowing your rights and hiring a knowledgeable attorney will help you decide the best course of action.