Joni M. Thome

Employment Attorney Joni ThomeJoni M. Thome practices exclusively on behalf of plaintiffs in the areas of employment law and class action litigation. Ms. Thome is a 1992 graduate of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota. Ms. Thome has obtained millions of dollars for her clients in awards and settlements including many multiple party, collective action and class action employment lawsuits.  She is a Labor and Employment Law Specialist, certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association. Ms. Thome has been named a Super Lawyer every year since 2000 and is currently rated as one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Minnesota. Prior to becoming a founding partner of Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP, Ms. Thome was a Senior Attorney at a Minneapolis employment law firm where she was a member of the management committee. Ms. Thome was the recipient of the 2012 Karla Wahl Dedicated Advocacy Award by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Lawyer Association. The award honors one Minnesota attorney each year for his or her “ceaseless and courageous efforts to better the rights of Minnesota employees…”

Contact Joni at [email protected] or 612-252-3570

Practice Areas

  • Civil Rights
  • Employee Law – Employee
  • Litigation & Appeals
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Workplace Training – Sexual Harassment, Sexual Orientation, HIV/AIDS DisabilityJoni M. Thome is a Super Lawyer

Bar Admissions

  • Minnesota, 1992
  • U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1993
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, 2001

Education

  • Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, J.D.(1992)
    • Law Journal: Hamline University Journal of Law and Policy, Associate
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, B.A.(1983)

Published Works

  • Reconciling Nondiscrimination with the Affirmation of Cultural Diversity, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Fall 1997, Volume 13, Number 2

Representative Cases

  • Davis v. Hennepin Cty., 559 N.W.2d 117 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997) (establishing precedent that statutory immunity is not available as a defense to MHRA claims and reversing summary judgment in favor of defendant on plaintiff’s discrimination claim because a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding whether employee’s managers acted willfully or maliciously in responding to plaintiff’s complaint).
  • Goins v. West Grp., 635 N.W.2d 717 (Minn. 2001) (establishing transgender former employee was member of class protected under the Minnesota Human Rights Act).
  • Davis v. Hennepin County
  • Sonkowsky ex rel. Sonkowsky v. Board of Educ. for Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 721, 327 F.3d 675 (8th Cir. 2003) (asserting school violated elementary student’s first and fourteenth amendment rights and discriminated against him because of a disability in violation of the MHRA when he was required to color a picture of a football player in Minnesota Vikings’ colors, was prohibited from wearing Packers’ jersey in class photo and was denied participating in school field trip to the Vikings’ practice facility at Winter Park). 
  • E.E.O.C. v. Fed. Express Corp., 165 F.Supp. 2d 956 (D. Minn. 2001) (setting precedent for the recognition of AIDS as a qualifying disability under the ADA.  Denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment where genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant employer met its obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to former employee diagnosed with AIDS). 
  • EEOC, et. al. v. Long Prairie Packing
  • Thorson v. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (2004)
  • Brenden v. Westonka Public Schs., No. EM 03-017571 (Dist. Ct. Minn. 2004) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of age discrimination and workers’ compensation retaliation where genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the plaintiff’s position was eliminated as part of the reduction-in-force, and whether the facts surrounding the elimination of the plaintiff’s position, creation of a similar position, and the decision not to hire plaintiff for the newly created position despite his prior good work evaluations was a pretext for illegal motives; subsequently, judgment entered for plaintiff following jury trial and award of damages).
  • Roslyn v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., No. 05-0441 2005 WL 1529937 (D. Minn. June 29, 2005) (denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss where plaintiff sufficiently alleged that defendant discriminated against him in violation of USERRA by denying him benefits because of his military reserve status).
  • Henry v. Indigenous People’s Task Force, No. A06-160, 2006 WL 3719658 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 19, 2006) (holding district court erred in granting defendant’s summary judgment motion because the evidence raised a genuine issue of material fact as to the credibility of defendant’s articulated reason for termination and supported an inference that defendant terminated plaintiffs and then looked for justification ex post facto). 
  • Baker v. Am. Furniture Liquidators, No. 27-CV-06-4642 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Nov. 13, 2006) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of sexual harassment hostile work environment in violation of the MHRA, finding defendant could not assert affirmative defense and a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive to create a hostile work environment). 
  • Schaich v. Int’l Seals, Inc., No. 27-CV-06-16894 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Sept. 12, 2007) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of retaliation under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, because genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant’s reason for terminating plaintiff was pretextual where the facts indicated defendant terminated plaintiff shortly after he refused to unload boxes containing dead animals because he thought it was unsafe to do so and voiced his opposition to defendant.   Subsequently, judgment entered for plaintiff following jury trial and award of damages).
  • Schutz v. Minneapolis Sch. Dist. Special Sch. Dist. No. 1, No. 27-CV-06-474 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Jan. 24, 2007) (judgment entered in favor of plaintiff on her claim of reprisal in violation of the MHRA, awarding damages in the amount of $149,000 plus damages for emotional distress in the amount of $50,000, attorney’s fees and costs).
  • Frieler v. Carlson Mktg. Grp., Inc., 751 N.W.2d 558 (Minn. 2008) (setting precedent that a plaintiff alleging sexual harassment by a supervisor in violation of the MHRA is not required to prove employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take timely and appropriate action; and setting precedent that employer is subject to vicarious liability for an actionable hostile environment created by supervisor with immediate or successively higher authority over victimized employee). 
  • Hollenkamp v. Jennie-O, No. 07-CV-04725 (D. Minn. June 1, 2009) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of disability discrimination because genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant’s reasons for firing plaintiff were pretextual, where defendant fired plaintiff, a longtime employee, shortly after plaintiff became disabled).
  • Lemon v. City of Minneapolis, No. 27-CV-08-11976 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Dec. 1, 2009) (following a bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff on her claims of reprisal in violation of the MHRA and reprisal under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, finding that defendant’s insults, demotion, and attempt to fire plaintiff demonstrated a “campaign of retaliatory actions” toward her based on her complaints about her work environment).
  • Kaufenberg v. Schwan’s Home Serv., Inc., No. A08-0214, 2009 WL 234014 (Minn. Ct. App. Feb. 3, 2009) (genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether employee’s  termination for the alleged falsification of medical records was pretext where employee presented legitimate explanation for the omissions on her medical report,  employer had a policy of not terminating employees for mistakes and termination followed worker’s compensation claim).
  • Brezina et. al. v. Chart (2010)
  • Truehl v. Roundy’s Supermarket, Inc., No. 27-CV-09-18698 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Apr. 23, 2010) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of reprisal in violation of the MHRA because several genuine issues of material fact including whether plaintiff engaged in protected conduct when she requested schedule changes accompanied by notes from her doctor regarding her disability).
  • Bahr v. Capella Univ., 788 N.W.2d 76 (Minn. 2010) (establishing that employee need not prove underlying merits of a discrimination/hostile environment to prove retaliation claim under the MHRA. The employee need only demonstrate that she had a good faith reasonable belief that conduct she opposed was a violation of the MHRA.
  • Schwarzkopf v. Brunswick Corp., 833 F.Supp. 2d 1106 (D. Minn. 2011) (partial denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment where genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether former employee was subjected to a hostile work environment when his co-workers repeatedly made derogatory comments about his perceived disability over a period of more than a year).
  • Harnan v. Univ. of St. Thomas, 776 F.Supp. 2d 938 (D. Minn. 2011) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim where genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether plaintiff suffered from a serious health condition and whether plaintiff was entitled to the benefits of the FMLA; and denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment of plaintiff’s FMLA retaliation claim where genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant’s proffered reason for termination was pretext for plaintiff’s termination). 
  • Adamson v. Mattamy Homes, No. 27-CV-13-2612 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Oct. 17, 2013) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim for age discrimination under the MHRA because genuine issues of material facts existed as to whether defendant’s reasons for termination were pretext where two younger employees replaced plaintiff after she was terminated).

Classes/Seminars Taught

  • Regular Presenter at the Annual Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Ethics and Bias Seminar, Minnesota Institute for Legal Education, 2001
  • Employment Law Institute, Minnesota Institute for Legal Education, 2001
  • Lavender Law, National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Annual Conference, American Association of Law Libraries, 2001

Honors and Awards

  • Karla Wahl Award Recipient, National Employment Lawyer Association, Minnesota Chapter, 2012
  • Superlawyer, Minnesota Law & Politics, 2000-2013
  • Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, Community Service Award, 1999
  • Top 50 Women Lawyers, 2012-2013; Top 100 Women Lawyers, 2007-2011

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Minnesota State Bar Association, 1992 – Present
  • Hennepin County Bar Association, 1992 – Present
  • Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, Founder/Past Chair, 1996 – Present
  • Minnesota AIDS Project, 1996 – Present; Volunteer Attorney Program
  • OutFront Minnesota, 1999 – Present; Attorney Referral Program Volunteer
  • National Gay and Lesbian Law Association, 2002 – 2004; Chair, current board member
  • Lavender Law 2004 Host Committee; Fundraising Chair
  • Seward Childcare Center, 1999 – 2004; Board Member, 2004 Board Chair
  • Human Rights Committee of the MSBA, 1994 – 1999
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