Minnesota Employment Law: Workplace Retaliation

Employees all across the world would like to firmly believe that if they acknowledge and address any wrongdoing, discrimination, or harassment that they would be protected at all times. However, many employees were on the wrong end of the situation when everything was over.

Workplace discrimination is alive and well. Unfortunately, so is workplace retaliation. Many employees have been victimized by their employers because of their decision to speak up and speak out.

According to state laws and federal laws, it is illegal for an employer to take inauspicious actions against employees as a form of retaliation for anything that is seen as a protected activity. According to the courts, there are several actions that can be referred to as a protected activity, including the following:

  • Using medical leave or family leave
  • Asking for any type of disability accommodation that should be considered reasonable
  • Seeking compensation due to a claim, whether it is harassment or discrimination
  • Inquiring about the wages of their coworkers
  • Refusing to participate in an illegal practice
  • Whistleblowing
  • Assisting law enforcement officials with a harassment claim

Employment anti-retaliation laws have been put in place to provide protection for employees. State laws and federal laws give employees the freedom to make a report whenever there is harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

Employees should feel free to report harassment or discrimination through the known communication and reporting channels in the workplace. Harassment and discrimination reports can also be made through governmental agencies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights agencies accept reports of harassment and discrimination.

Unfortunately, workplace retaliation is not uncommon. Instead of all employees receiving fair treatment, the employees who report unlawful activities and wrongdoings are often seen as someone who is trying to start trouble.

Many employers attempt to take advantage of their ultimate power and use it to terminate, demote, or reduce the pay of an employee who has made a claim. These tactics are often used to prevent and intimidate other employees from making claims. Retaliation can occur in a variety of ways and in a variety of forms.

An inauspicious or adverse reaction from an employee can include the following:

  • Terminating the employee
  • Demoting the employee
  • Refusing to promote the employee
  • Reassigning an employee to a more challenging or difficult department

What Protection Does Minnesota Provide?

In Minnesota, employees can be fired at any given time for any reason or no reason. Minnesota is an employment “at-will” state. However, several exceptions have been made over time. The exceptions to the rule that has been established in private sectors can come from the legislature or the courts.

Generally, legislators are not able to have enough impact on the situation because they do not always have the provision to properly address what has taken place. On the other hand, the protections that have been established by law can fill in the holes in areas where there is no rule in place.

There will be situations when litigation will be the best way to resolve the problem, but there will also be situations where a negotiated severance would achieve great results in an inexpensive and quick manner.

Have You Experienced Workplace Retaliation?

If anyone has experienced workplace retaliation for opposing or reporting discrimination, harassment, or any other unlawful practice, we encourage employees to seek the assistance of a law practice that specializes in employment law. If the employment lawyer believes your rights were violated by the employer, he or she will negotiate compensation or sue the employer if it is necessary.

As an employee, you are entitled to a variety of workplace rights under both federal and state laws. You are also entitled to receive protection from any retaliation attempt because you stood up and used those rights.

If any employee witnesses illegal conduct or violations in the workplace, the employee should not feel afraid to report it to the proper authorities. We understand the fear of losing a job or having a reduction in pay. However, it is important to remember there are laws in place to protect employees who do the right thing.

A Successful Retaliation Claim

The key to being successful in a retaliation claim is to prove there was a connection between the adverse actions of the employers and the conduct the employee exhibited. There will be cases where it will make perfect sense to use that connection and the evidence to negotiate the severance package you deserve.

When the time comes to go through the litigation process, the relationship an employee once had with the employer will not be the same. As a result of the broken relationship, we feel it would be best for both sides to move on. We understand the damage that a toxic relationship or workplace can do to both sides, and this is why we work hard to ensure you will be able to freely walk away from that workplace environment.

There can be additional federal and state laws that will offer additional protection for an employee. Also, depending on the case, an employee can be compensated for lost wages, attorney’s fees, punitive damages, and emotional distress if the employer is found liable.

At Villaume & Schiek, we are prepared to take your case to its rightful conclusion. If a client’s case needs to go to trial, that is the direction we will take. If we think it will be in our client’s best interest to settle, that is the direction we will take. We will work with our clients throughout every stage of the process.

We understand that no one wants to lose his or her job for any reason. Our team is experienced in protecting employees who make the decision to do the right thing by reporting harassment, discrimination, and other unlawful actions. If you would like information about how you can determine if you are being retaliated or if you would like to know how we represent clients in retaliation cases, please do not hesitate to contact Villaume & Schiek today to schedule a consultation.


Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individualsituation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.