Nichols Kaster Represents Seven Current and Former Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Employees in Case Filed Against Hennepin County

Seven current and former law enforcement professionals from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office filed a lawsuit against Hennepin County because it ignored its legal obligations to maintain a safe workplace free of discrimination and retaliation. The plaintiffs, several of whom worked in senior positions in former Sheriff David Hutchinson’s administration, were subjected to an environment of bigotry and fear over the course of several years. The seven employees and former employees are suing Hennepin County for violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minnesota Whistleblower Act, and Minnesota common law.

The Plaintiffs are long-time employees or former employees of Hennepin County with more than 130 years of combined law enforcement experience. They are represented by attorneys at Nichols Kaster, PLLP, Premo Frank PLLC, Smith Law, and Tostrud Law Group, PC. Five of the Plaintiffs continue to work in the Sheriff’s Office, while one retired in February 2023 and another was forced to leave in August 2022 due to the County’s continued inaction.

During and after Hutchinson’s tenure as Hennepin County Sheriff, he repeatedly violated the rights of Hennepin County employees. Hutchinson brutally demeaned employees because of their race, sexual orientation and other statuses protected under Minnesota law, using vulgar and derogatory language. He also was openly vindictive–he threatened to fire employees, and talked about killing people who crossed him, often while wielding his county-issued gun. The Plaintiffs and other employees brought their concerns to Hennepin County leadership for more than two years, and the County failed to act to create a safe work environment.

“Racism, discrimination, retaliation and violence have no place in the workplace and time and again Hennepin County failed to create a safe and inclusive environment for its employees,” said Steven Andrew Smith, an attorney representing the Plaintiffs from Nichols Kaster, PLLP. “No employer is above the law, and I’m proud to represent these hardworking public servants who are taking steps to hold Hennepin County accountable for the deep and lasting harm they caused through years of inaction and management failures.”

Media Links:

MPR News -

WCCO CBS Minnesota-

KARE 11 -

MPR MN Now with Cathy Wurzer -

Star Tribune -