employment retaliation

Employment Retaliation Protection in Minnesota

In Minnesota and across the US, employees who report their employers’ wrongdoings are protected from retaliation. The various anti-retaliation laws that apply to Minnesota workers serve to encourage individuals to report illegal activity without fear of being fired or some other form of reprisal.

Anti-retaliation laws can be found within provisions of broader state and federal statutes (such as anti-discrimination or workplace safety laws) or in specific anti-retaliation legislation, like the Minnesota Whistleblower Act.

Which Activities Are Protected?

Although the specific activities protected will vary from one anti-retaliation statute to another, generally, the protections apply to an employee who reports illegal activity or participates in an investigation or inquiry regarding the illegal activity of their employer. In most cases, an employee is protected when reporting suspected illegal activity as long as they have a good faith basis for the suspicion.

What Constitutes Retaliation?

Although anti-retaliation laws often serve as the basis for wrongful termination lawsuits, termination is not the only manner in which an employer could retaliate. Anti-retaliation lawsuits may be brought in response to any employment-related adverse action, including the following:

  • Termination
  • Pay decrease or demotion
  • Workplace harassment
  • Unjustified disciplinary actions
  • Unwanted change of schedule or work location (see our recent post on constructive discharge)

Examples of Anti-retaliation Laws on the Federal Level

A number of statutes that protect employees on the federal level include provisions prohibiting reprisal. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes an anti-retaliation provision which protects an employee from adverse action for reporting or opposing their employer’s discriminatory actions. (Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.)

Employees are also protected when reporting violations of several other federal laws. For example:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects disabled workers from discrimination
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects workers aged 40 and over from discrimination
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which imposes workplace safety standards
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects employee rights to organize and form unions
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which imposes employment standards related to minimum wage, overtime, employment of minors, etc.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which regulates employee pension plans

Minnesota State Protections from Retaliation

In addition to federal anti-retaliation laws, Minnesota employees are also protected by state statutes that specifically prohibit retaliation. Employees in Minnesota benefit from two general anti-retaliation statutes: the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), and the Minnesota Whistleblower Act.

The MHRA, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, public assistance, age, sexual orientation, or familial status, also bars an employer from retaliating against an employee who reports such discrimination.

The Whistleblower Act serves as a general ban of reprisal against employees who report violations of federal or state laws or participate in investigations or proceedings related to illegal activities.

Employment Lawyers in Minnesota

At Collins, Buckley, Sauntry, & Haugh, PLLP, our employment law attorneys are well-versed in the federal and state anti-retaliation laws and we are experienced in litigating retaliation lawsuits on behalf of both employers and employees. To consult with a member of our employment law team, please call 651-227-0611 or contact us online.

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