Minnesota Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Police Sergeant Represented by Nichols Kaster

On July 29, 2019, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued a published opinion in favor of New Brighton police sergeant, Steven Moore, who is represented by Lucas Kaster and James Kaster of Nichols Kaster, PLLP. In the lawsuit, Moore alleged that the City of New Brighton retaliated against him in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act after he filed a union grievance challenging the City’s failure to pay him for overtime work. Following his grievance, the City charged Moore with two separate conduct violations and placed him on administrative leave for nine months. When the City finally allowed Moore to return, the City reassigned him to an unfavorable position, imposed his worst-ever performance review, and provided Moore with a coaching and counseling that referenced years-old conduct.

In the opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of the City and held that Moore’s claims should proceed to trial. In the process, the Court of Appeals resolved several key issues under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. Among other things, the Court (1) held that reporting a suspected breach-of-contract (including a collective bargaining agreement) is protected under the MWA, (2) adopted the Burlington v. White standard for adverse action in MWA cases, (3) held that administrative leaves can constitute adverse actions under the MWA, and (4) held that potential adverse actions (e.g., reassignment, performance coaching, etc.) must be considered collectively when evaluating whether they “might dissuade” a reasonable person from engaging in protected activity.

The case was argued before the Court of Appeals by Associate Lucas Kaster of Nichols Kaster, PLLP’s individual practice group. 

The oral argument is available here and the opinion can be viewed here.

At Nichols Kaster, PLLP, we stand with employees who suffer harassment or retaliation after they seek to enforce their legally protected rights. If you feel you have been subjected to harassment or retaliation, contact us today.