Breaking Down the Minnesota Whistleblower Act

Employment law may vary from state to state, which is why it’s essential to break down the Minnesota Whistleblower Act to better understand the protections and rights that you have as an employee. Whistleblower laws, also known as qui tam claims, provide quintessential legal coverage for all employees reporting illegal activities at work. 

Although there are safeguards against discrimination, retaliation, and unjust termination, they can unfortunately still occur. Therefore, it’s crucial to utilize this guide to learn more about how whistleblower laws work and what other stipulations can strengthen your case.

Protecting Workers With the Minnesota Whistleblower Act

No one should have to fear being fired after reporting unlawful or unethical workplace misconduct. The Whistleblower Act exists to protect employees from retaliation, such as discrimination, reduced pay, hostile work environments, and even wrongful termination. Even though this law sets a legal precedent, adverse actions can still take place on the job, leaving employees feeling isolated and concerned. 

Learn more about types of qualifying factors that can occur in a whistleblower case, such as:

  • Denying promotions
  • Reducing pay or hourly rate
  • Making unneeded transfers
  • Intimidation or harassment
  • Denying overtime 
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Hostile comments
  • Discriminating behaviors
  • Wrongful termination

If you’re facing wrongful termination and retaliation at work, reach out to an understanding and skilled employment attorney.

Breaking Down the Minnesota Whistleblower Act

Whistleblowing is a significant tenet of the Minnesota employment law. Any at-will employee can pursue a case against an employer that retaliated against them after reporting a violation of the law in good faith. However, the language of this statute has some grey areas, so it’s imperative to mount a clear case that doesn’t focus on broad terminology or tactics. 

Consider some of the many situations below that may fall under the protection of the Whistleblower Act:

  • An employee shares data and study findings with local law enforcement or government agencies.
  • An employer participated in a public hearing, investigation, or inquiry.
  • An employee reports an incident of activity that they suspect to violate any state or federal laws to their employer, government agencies, or law enforcement.
  • An employee reports a potentially hazardous situation in which health care services of any healthcare organization, provider, or facility could harm an individual or the public.
  • An employee refuses to perform an action that they believe violates the law. In doing so, they must inform their employer that they don’t want to break any regulations.
  • A state government employee discloses state services information to a constitutional officer or legislator. 

Remember, the Minnesota Whistleblower Act offers protection to you and others from unjust retribution. If you believe that you’re experiencing retaliation or discrimination in the workplace due to any of the above acts. In that case, it’s essential to consult an experienced whistleblower attorney to help discern whether or not you have a strong enough basis for a lawsuit. 

Legal Retaliation Protection

While employees are protected against retaliation under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, three additional federal protections can help:

False Claims Act (FCA):

The FCA provides protection and rewards to employees who file fraud reports on employer violations, including prohibiting retaliation and offering potential compensation for valid claims.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX):

Any employees working in a publicly traded company are protected under SOX. These protections prohibit retaliation if said employee files a report with the SEC outlining clear violations of security laws.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA):

Employees are protected under OSHA and may not be discriminated against or fired for refusing to do a task that could cause serious physical injury or death. These protections extend for any employee who files a complaint, testifies in a proceeding, or exercises the right to show concern for occupational safety and health standard violations.

Situations That Don’t Apply

While this act protects employees who disclose activities they deem to be illegal, it does not defend those sharing information they know is false or shows a reckless disregard for the truth. For this reason, it’s critical that any information reported is done in good faith and with honest intentions.

When trying to discern whether a case qualifies under the Whistleblower Act, the following circumstances are exempt from protection:

  • The reported “illegal task” is listed in the employee’s job duties.
  • An employer already knew or addressed the alleged violation. 
  • The employee mistook the action for unlawful.
  • The activity violates common laws or a contract.

Additional Workplace Protections

As an employee in Minnesota, you have several rights within the workplace protected by state and federal laws. In fact, under Minnesota Statutes, you can learn more specific protections that you can use to strengthen your case. Explore these mandates below.

Labor Relations Act

Any employee who files an affidavit, complaint, or petition may not be discharged or discriminated against under the Minnesota Labor Relations Act. This protection also extends to employees who give information or witness testimony.

Discrimination

Employees cannot face retaliation for opposing a prohibited practice under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. This law also ensures protections for an employee who files a charge, testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding, hearing, or investigation. Learn more about discrimination in the workplace.

Minimum Wage

Suppose any employee participates in filing a complaint, testifies, or institutes a proceeding concerning a violation of Minnesota’s minimum wage laws. Under those circumstances, they may not be unlawfully discriminated against or discharged from employment. Any employer who does so may be fined up to $3000 for minimum wage violations.

Vulnerable Adults

Due to either a physical or mental disability or dependency on institutional services, vulnerable adults can be targets of abuse. For this reason, employees may not suffer retaliation after reporting suspected mistreatment of particularly vulnerable adults. 

Wage Discrimination (Equal Pay for Equal Work)

Employees cannot be discharged or discriminated against for testifying in an investigation or filing a complaint regarding a wage discrimination case. Minnesota’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Law prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex or other identifying features.

Workers’ Compensation

Employees cannot be terminated or penalized for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Get Help Filing a Claim Today

No one should have to face workplace retaliation or discrimination for speaking up against unlawful or dangerous situations. While dealing with these circumstances may be stressful and challenging, it’s important to know that you don’t have to go through this alone. If you’re facing backlash or dealing with unlawful termination for reporting illegal activity at work, it’s time to seek out help from knowledgeable employment attorneys at MJSB Employment Justice. 

When you work with our team, we can break down the Minnesota Whistleblower Act to help you understand your legal rights and protections. We believe in approaching cases holistically to fight for your rights while offering support throughout the process. Rest assured that you are doing the right thing in taking this step, and our remarkable attorneys are here to help you along the way.

Contact us today to get started.

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