Making a whistleblower statement just got a little safer following a decision by the Minnesota State Court today. In answering a certified question, the Court determined that the legislature’s 2013 …
Employees have a number of rights under state and federal laws, including the right to have wages paid in a timely manner; reasonable accommodations for a disability; and a workplace free from discrimination and sexual harassment. Under the law, most employees also have the right to take time off to deal with a medical condition or to care for a close family member. In many cases, clear communication with your employer will successfully resolve these types of issues. But when this doesn’t work, there are legal remedies available.
Most employment relationships are considered “at will,” meaning that you or the employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason.* The reason for the employer’s termination can be without merit, BUT it cannot be illegal. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates an employee based on the employee’s protected class, such as race, gender, religion or ethnicity. Wrongful termination also occurs if an employer terminates you for refusing to break the law (retaliation or whistle-blower claims).
If you have been wrongfully terminated, you may be entitled to monetary damages from your former employer.
*Employment would not be “at will” if there is a written agreement with the employer that says otherwise.
Applying for unemployment benefits is one of the first things you should do if terminated or laid off from a job through no fault of your own. However, many employers dispute the determination that a former employee is eligible for unemployment benefits. This leads to a phone hearing with an unemployment law judge (ULJ) who will decide whether the former employee is entitled to unemployment compensation or not.
It is important to have an attorney represent you for these hearings because unemployment law judges rarely reverse their decisions and the Minnesota Court of Appeals gives deference to the ULJ’s decision. An attorney can help you right from the beginning in determining what facts are important to bring to the ULJ’s attention when proving your case. Sometimes, the facts that seem important to a client are not the facts that will help that person win.