Whistleblower Retaliation

The Minnesota Whistleblower Act, Minnesota Statutes § 181.932, protects employees from whistleblower retaliation by their employer if they report, or refuse to engage in, illegal conduct. The Whistleblower Act protects all employees in Minnesota and applies to all employers with one or more employees. 

Minnesota Whistleblower Protection

The Minnesota Whistleblower Act prohibits termination, discrimination or other adverse actions toward an employee when:

  • the employee has in good faith reported a violation or suspected violation of any federal or state law, statute, rule or regulation;
  • the employee is requested to participate in an investigation, hearing or inquiry; or
  • the employee refuses the employer’s order to perform an act that the employee has an objective basis in fact to believe violates any federal or state law, rule or regulation.

Whistleblower Retaliation

What is an adverse action in employment law? It could include any of the following retaliatory conduct:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Demotion or transfer
  • Denial of overtime or promotion
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Denial of benefits
  • Failure to hire or rehire
  • Intimidation or harassment
  • Reassignment affecting promotion prospects
  • Reducing pay or hours

Whistleblower Retaliation Protection for Health Care Employees

The Minnesota Whistleblower Act also has a specific protection for employees of health care providers and facilities. These health care employees are protected for reporting situations where the public health is at risk because of a quality of care level that is below the standards set by law or by a professionally recognized national, clinical or ethical standard.

Beyond the protections afforded to employees under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, common law in Minnesota also protects employees who are terminated by an employer for a reason that contravenes a clear mandate of public policy. This means that an employee may bring a claim for wrongful termination when the motivation for their firing violates public policy. 

Other Whistleblower Retaliation Protection Statutes

There are other laws besides common law and the Minnesota Whistleblower Act that protect employees from retaliation. Under federal law, there are three important protections for employees:

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”) is a federal law that guards against retaliation for employees who are whistleblowers who are employed by a publicly traded company or by a contractor or subsidiary of such a company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in by Congress in 2002 to reduce corporate fraud and protects whistleblowers when they report fraudulent or illegal activities at their employer.
  • The False Claims Act (“FCA”) also protects employees who report fraud and experience retaliation from their employer. Specifically, the False Claims Act and the Minnesota False Claims Act provide rewards for those whistleblowers providing information about fraud that is being committed against the government. This type of fraud against the government can occur in a variety of industries – from the fraudulent medical billing to public works projects – and employees who report the illegal practices have protection from retaliation.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) protects employees from retaliation after they have exercised their rights under the Act, such as participation in safety and health activities (complaining to OSHA or seeking an OSHA inspection), participation in an OSHA proceeding, or reporting a work-related illness or injury.   

Contact Our Minnesota Employment Lawyers to Discuss Your Rights
The attorneys at Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP have litigated and tried countless whistleblower cases under Minnesota laws. If you believe you have been subject to retaliation after blowing the whistle, it is important that you contact one of our experienced employment lawyers to discuss how to protect your employment rights. Click here for a free consultation.