Whistleblower retaliation is when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee because the employee has reported a violation or suspected violation of law to their employer or to the government. Adverse actions can range from demotion, termination, and reduction in salary to negative performance evaluations or other negative employment actions. The key element in whistleblower retaliation is the causal connection between the employee's whistleblowing activity and the adverse action taken by the employer.
In Minnesota, the primary legal framework for whistleblower protection under state law is the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. Among other protections, this legislation protects employees who, in good faith, report violations or suspected violations of law to an employer, any governmental body or law enforcement official.
Common Forms of Whistleblower Retaliation.
Whistleblower retaliation can take many forms. It can be overt, such as harassment creating a hostile work environment, termination, demotion, or reduction in salary. It can also be more subtle, such as exclusion from meetings, reduced responsibilities, and negative performance evaluations. The key to identifying retaliation is to look for changes in the treatment of the employee following their whistleblowing activity.
Employees should be vigilant and aware of their rights, and should not hesitate to seek legal help if they suspect they are being retaliated against for their whistleblowing activities.
Rights of Whistleblowers in Minnesota.
Protection from Employer Retaliation.
In Minnesota, the Minnesota Whistleblower Act protects employees for engaging in several types of whistleblowing conduct. Employers cannot fire, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee reported a violation or suspected violation of law or refused to participate in any activity that they believe to be illegal. Employees who are requested by a government entity to participate in an investigation, hearing or inquiry are also protected from retaliation under the Act, as well as employees who, in good faith, report a situation in which the quality of health care services provided by a health care entity violates a standard established by law or a professionally recognized national clinical or ethical standard and potentially places the public at risk of harm. The Act also prohibits retaliation against government employees for communicating the findings of a scientific or technical study that the employee, in good faith, believes to be truthful and accurate.
The protections in the Minnesota Whistleblower Act extend to both public and private sector employees.
If an employee believes they have been retaliated against for whistleblowing, they should seek legal help from an experienced employment law attorney.
Navigating Whistleblower Retaliation Cases.
Importance of Documenting Evidence of Retaliation.
One of the key aspects of a successful whistleblower retaliation claim is strong evidence. This often involves documenting the whistleblowing activity and the subsequent retaliation. For instance, if an employee reports a violation of law to their supervisor, they should keep a record of this communication. Similarly, if the employee experiences adverse action after the whistleblowing activity, they should document these incidents as well.
Documenting evidence can be as simple as keeping a journal of events, saving emails or text messages, or maintaining a record of performance evaluations or disciplinary actions. This evidence can be crucial in proving the link between whistleblowing activity and retaliation, which is the key element in a retaliation claim.
Role of Legal Counsel in Whistleblower Cases.
Legal counsel plays a critical role in whistleblower cases. An experienced employment law attorney can provide advice and guidance throughout the process, from understanding the rights and protections available under the law to filing a complaint or lawsuit..
Moreover, an attorney can help the whistleblower navigate the complex legal issues involved in a retaliation claim. This includes understanding the legal requirements for a whistleblower claim, gathering and presenting evidence, and advocating for the whistleblower's rights in negotiations or court proceedings.
How to Choose the Right Whistleblower Attorney.
Choosing the right attorney is a crucial step in pursuing a whistleblower retaliation claim. The right attorney can provide the expertise, resources, and advocacy needed to effectively pursue a claim and seek justice for the whistleblower. When choosing an attorney, it's important to consider their experience in employment law, their track record in whistleblower cases, and their approach to client service.
At Nichols Kaster, PLLP, we have a team of experienced employment law attorneys who are dedicated to protecting the rights of whistleblowers. We understand the complexities of whistleblower laws and have a proven track record of successfully representing whistleblowers in retaliation claims. If you believe you have been retaliated against for whistleblower conduct, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation.
Contact us today at (877) 344-4628 for a consultation!