Employment Law

Chris Jozwiak appears on The Legal Journal

Baillon Thome Jowiak & Wanta LLP partner Christopher Jozwiak appeared on Business 1570’s The Legal Journal broadcast show on December 1, 2012. Chris discussed a type of whistleblower law known as qui tam actions. Qui tam whistleblower actions allow an individual to file a lawsuit on behalf of him or herself and on behalf of the federal or state government. Qui tam actions seek to recover money from a company or person who has committed fraud against the government.

Baillon Thome Partners Joni Thome and Frances Baillon Appear on The Legal Journal Radio Show

Joni Thome and Frances Baillon were guests on The Legal Journal radio program on November 17, 2012 to answer questions regarding employment discrimination and retaliation for opposing employment discrimination. The show covered topics such as race discrimination, age discrimination, and gender discrimination. Joni Thome and Frances Baillon also discussed how an employee can respond to discrimination or harassment and what to do if you think your employer is discriminating against you.

An audio file of the program is available at the bottom of this post.

Are Text and Email Advertisements Illegal?

Papa John’s recently made headlines because it faces a $250 million dollar suit over inundating customers with unwanted text advertisements. This case raises an important question to consumers: when are text advertisements on my cell phone illegal solicitations? Two laws – the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act – address spam. The TCPA and certain Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibit many text messages sent to mobile phones using computer software that can send many messages at once.

Gender Income Inequality Persists Throughout Minnesota

At the second presidential debate, one of the town hall participants posed a question to the candidates: “In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” The question highlights that unequal pay—form a gender discrimination—remains a problem over forty years after the Equal Pay Act became law. 

Is Bullying in the Workplace Illegal?

Whether it’s your coworker, supervisor or manager, bullying in the workplace is an unfortunate but all too common problem for employees. Numerous advocacy organizations and media outlets have broadcasted the extent of the problem and its costly impact on the workplace. Bullying can include repeated verbal abuse, including derogatory remarks, insults, or epithets; verbal or physical conduct of a threatening, intimidating, or humiliating nature; the sabotage or undermining of an employee’s work performance; or attempts to exploit an employee’s known psychological or physical vulnerability.

Can my employer read my email?

Use work email with caution. Your employer probably has a right to read and review the messages you send to your spouse, friends, family, and even your lawyers, doctors, religious counsel and other privileged communication. Apart from permissible routine screening of messages, work emails may become evidence in lawsuit regarding sexual harassment, age discrimination, whistleblowers, retaliation, or other forms of wrongful termination. As employment lawyers, we are often asked by employees whether employers reading their email is a violation of their workplace rights.

Are you protected against retaliation if you reject your supervisor's sexual advances/harassment?

According to Title VII it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who engages in statutorily protected activity by opposing a practice that is unlawful under the statute. Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII. Yet there remains a split in the federal district courts regarding whether an employee's rejection or opposition to a supervisor's sexual harassment constitutes protected activity under the law. Minnesota employment law is clear on this - federal courts have held that rejecting a supervisor's sexual advances or harassment is “the most basic form of protected activity.”

Facebook “Like” Leads to Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Can “liking” a page or website lead to wrongful termination? Peter TerVeer claims this is exactly what happened to him and his story has recently been highlighted in the Washington Post. Essentially, TerVeer was employed as an auditor for the Library of Congress but after inadvertently coming out to his boss via facebook, he is jobless. TerVeer initially had a great relationship with his boss, who even tried to set him up with his daughter. After the daughter and TerVeer became Facebook friends, she noticed he “liked” a page that supported same-sex parents’ campaign against bullying. The daughter commented on the post, writing: “Don’t tell me you’re weird like that.” Days later, TerVeer’s supervisor sent him a harassing email mocking “diversity,” began lecturing him on the sin of homosexuality and proceeded to give him a negative performance review. TerVeer was later terminated. Earlier this month, VerTeer filed suit in federal court and brought claims of employment discrimination and retaliation.

Employment Discrimination in Dress Codes and Appearance Standards

Former Disney employees have brought suit under similar circumstances in at least two other cases – a 2010 case involving the hijab of a Muslim intern and another case in 2008 involving a Sikh musician wearing a turban. All of these cases demonstrate the conflict between an employer’s desire to maintain a certain “look” for their brand and the employee’s right to not be discriminated against based on their religion and appearance.