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Civil Rights

Le Sueur County Pension

Thelemann v. County of Le Sueur
File No. 40-CV-20-849 (Minn. Dist. Ct.)

On October 7, 2020, Nichols Kaster filed a proposed class action against Le Sueur County on behalf of current and former county employees. The lawsuit alleges that Le Sueur County negligently failed to notify the Public Employees Retirement Association (“PERA”) when county employees took leaves of absence from work. Public employers are required to notify PERA when an employee goes on leave. Once PERA has been notified, the association can offer the employee the opportunity to purchase salary credits. These salary credits effectively restore the employee’s earnings to the level that the employee would have collected had they continued to work full time.

In this case, the county failed to notify PERA when Jeffrey Thelemann, a veteran employee with the Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Department, took a leave of absence. Because of the county’s negligence, Thelemann lost the opportunity to purchase salary credits to remedy the impact of his lost wages on his “high-five” salary, substantially reducing his monthly retirement benefits. He brings this case on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated county employees.

Type of Case

Retirement Benefits, Class Action

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Am I eligible?

This Class seeks to represent all current and former employees of Le Sueur County who, within six years prior to September 24, 2020: (1) had a pension through PERA; (2) went on an authorized leave of absence during their employment with Le Sueur County; (3) had a reduction in salary as a result of and during the leave; and (4) for whom Le Sueur County failed to report their leave to PERA within the time period required by law.

Additional Information

What is a Class Action?

In a class action lawsuit, one or more people, called the "class representatives,” sue on behalf of themselves and other people who have similar claims. Together, this group of people is called a “class” or “class members.” The class representative and the class members together are called the “Plaintiffs.” The companies they sue are called the “Defendants.” The judge or jury resolves the claims for everyone in the class—except those who ask to be excluded from the lawsuit.

How Long with this Take?

Class actions can often take years. Please check this page periodically for updates on the case’s status.

How do I Join This Case?

As part of our investigatory efforts, we are interested in speaking with others who may have been affected by a county employer’s failure to notify PERA of employee leaves of absence. You may contact us toll free at 612-256-3253 or email our clerk Colton Taylor at ctaylor@nka.com.

Case Updates

  • October 8, 2020

    Former Le Sueur County Employee Represented by Nichols Kaster, PLLP, Files Negligence Lawsuit over Pension

    On October 7, 2020, a former Le Sueur County employee filed a proposed class action against the county on behalf of himself and other similarly situated county employees. The lawsuit alleges that Le Sueur County negligently failed to notify the Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association (“PERA”) when county employees took leaves of absence from work.

    The county is required to notify PERA when an employee takes a leave of absence. Once PERA is notified of an employee’s leave, the association can then offer the employee the opportunity to purchase salary credits. By purchasing salary credits, the employee can effectively restore their earnings to the level that the employee would have collected had they continued to work full time. The lawsuit alleges that, as a result of the county’s failure to notify PERA, county employees lost the opportunity to purchase salary credits that would remedy any negative impact that leave could have on their retirement benefits.

    Plaintiff Jeffrey Thelemann retired in 2020 after 29 years of service with the Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Department. Before retirement, he took a leave of absence and his salary was reduced during his leave. The county did not notify PERA of Thelemann’s leave of absence, and Thelemann consequently lost the opportunity to purchase salary credits, which in turn substantially reduced his monthly retirement benefits. Thelemann brings this case on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated current and former county employees.

    “When employers like Le Sueur County neglect their obligations, their employees suffer,” said Plaintiff’s counsel, Melanie A. Johnson of Nichols Kaster, PLLP.  “We want to ensure that dedicated public employees like Mr. Thelemann are compensated for the lost opportunity to receive benefits they otherwise could have collected.”

    The case is titled Thelemann v. County of Le Sueur, Court File No. 40-CV-20-849, and is filed in Minnesota’s First Judicial District. The Plaintiffs are represented by Anna P. Prakash and Melanie A. Johnson of Nichols Kaster, PLLP.

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