Minnesota Whistleblower Lawyers
If you know that your employer broke the law, the skilled lawyers at Heimerl & Lammers can help you understand your options. For example, if your employer fired you—or otherwise retaliated against you—for coming forward about your employer’s illegal actions, or if you wish to bring a claim against your employer for breaking the law, the experienced attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers can provide you with aggressive representation. To learn more about how Heimerl & Lammers can help you, get in touch with us for a free consultation by calling (612) 294-2200.
What Is A Whistleblower?
As a Minnesota employee, you have rights. Indeed, if your employer broke the law, you likely have rights under Minnesota and federal laws.
Your employer cannot retaliate against you for speaking out about your employer’s wrongdoing. In other words, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for whistleblowing. In fact, as a whistleblower, you may be able to bring a claim against your employer for breaking the law. Additionally, if your employer retaliated against you after you reported your employer, you have the right to sue your employer for damages.
A whistleblower is an employee who brings their employer’s illegal activity to light. An employee is a whistleblower when they report their employer’s unlawful activity to others in the company, such as a supervisor or the government.
Being a whistleblower can be stressful, and whistleblowers often face employer retaliation. However, whistleblowers do a lot of good. Indeed, according to the National Whistleblowers Center, scientific studies have shown that employee whistleblowers are the most effective at discovering employer fraud.
Public policy supports whistleblowers. Indeed, federal laws and Minnesota laws protect whistleblowers. In addition, whistleblowers who bring claims against employers can be awarded monetary damages. If you are a whistleblower—or if you are thinking about blowing the whistle on your employer soon—you should reach out to the knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers. Call (612) 294-2200 for a free consultation.
What Is Whistleblower Retaliation?
Retaliation occurs when an employer breaks the law, an employee speaks out, and the employer responds with adverse action against the employee. Generally, retaliation is illegal. According to the United States Department of Labor, types of retaliation include:
- Denying benefits
- Not hiring or rehiring
- Intimidation or harassment
- Reducing hours or pay
- Poor treatment
- Making work so unbearable the employee quits
- Reporting or threatening to report an employee to the authorities
Several state and federal laws protect whistleblowing employees from retaliation and provide employees with the right to sue employers for defrauding the government.
MN Employment Lawyers For Whistleblower Claims
If you have a potential whistleblower claim and want to be sure how to best proceed, contact a whistleblower attorney at Heimerl & Lammers. Our employment attorneys are experienced in handling whistleblower cases. We’ll help identify your options, including how to bring a case against your employer for damages.
What Is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act is a federal law that targets employers who defraud the federal government. The United States Department of Justice reported that the United States government recovered $5.6 billion from companies that defrauded the government in the last fiscal year alone.
Importantly, the False Claims Act gives rights to employees whose employers violate the law. So if your employer broke the law, you may have rights under the False Claims Act.
What Are Your Rights Under The False Claims Act?
Your rights as an employee primarily come from the False Claims Act’s Qui Tam provisions. The Qui Tam provisions of the False Claims Act reward employees who stand up for what is right and bright their employer’s illegal actions to light.
Under the Qui Tam Provisions, you may file a claim against your employer if your employer defrauded the federal government. If your lawsuit is successful, you may receive money damages. The United States government must review your claim within a set time period. The United States government has the ability to intervene and take over your lawsuit, in which case you could still receive money damages. If the United States government decides not to take the case, you may still proceed with the lawsuit and recover a greater proportion of the damages than you would have if the government intervened.
The employment law attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers provide aggressive representation to employees pursuing claims about employer wrongdoing under the False Claims Act. If you wish to bring a claim against your employer, the experienced employment law attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers may be able to assist you.
What Portion Of Damages Could You Recover From A False Claims Lawsuit?
If you bring a Qui Tam action against your employer and the court finds that your employer defrauded the government, the court will order your employer to pay the government money damages. The False Claims Act rewards whistleblowers for coming forward and filing Qui Tam actions. You could receive 15 to 30 percent of the damages if your Qui Tam action is successful. If the government intervened in the lawsuit, you could expect to receive 15 to 25 percent of the damages. If the government decided not to intervene in the lawsuit and you continued with the lawsuit on your own, you could expect to receive 25 to 30 percent of the damages.
As An Employee, What Are Your Rights Under Minnesota Law?
Minnesota law also protects employees who blow the whistle on employer wrongdoing. Minnesota law makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for whistleblowing. Under Minnesota law, you may also have the right to sue an employer who defrauds the State of Minnesota. Specifically, two important Minnesota laws protect whistleblowers: the Minnesota Whistleblower Act and the Minnesota False Claims Act.
What Is The Minnesota Whistleblower Act?
The Minnesota Whistleblower Act is a Minnesota state law that protects Minnesota employees who report employer violations of any state or federal law. The Minnesota Whistleblower Act applies when your employer breaks any law, including federal law, Minnesota law, or another state’s law. In addition, the Minnesota Whistleblower Act states that your employer cannot retaliate against you for reporting their violation of the law.
What Are Your Rights Under The Minnesota Whistleblower Act?
The Minnesota Whistleblower Act makes it illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for whistleblowing, including:
- Making a good faith report of a violation or suspected violation of a law
- Complying with a public body or office’s request to participate in an investigation against your employer
- Refusing to do something for your employer that is illegal
The Minnesota Whistleblower Act has special protections for healthcare and government employees. If you are a healthcare employee, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for:
- Making a good faith report that a health care facility or provider has violated standards, such as ethical standards, could be creating a risk to the public
If you are a government employee, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for:
- Reporting the findings of a scientific or technical study that you believe is accurate and true
- Reporting information relating to state services to a legislator or legislative auditor, or a constitutional officer
What Is A Good Faith Report Under The Minnesota Whistleblower Act?
The Minnesota Supreme Court clarified the meaning of good faith. Your report of your employer’s wrongdoing will be in good faith as long as you don’t know or have reason to believe your allegations are false. You don’t have to know that the allegations against your employer are true; you just need to be sure that the allegations aren’t false. As long as you aren’t making up your claim or ignoring evidence that suggests your employer’s actions were within the bounds of the law, the court will likely view your report as good faith.
What Is the Minnesota False Claims Act?
Another important Minnesota law is the Minnesota False Claims Act. This is Minnesota’s version of the federal False Claims Act. Enacted in 2009, the Minnesota False Claims Act is a relativity new law. The Minnesota False Claims Act applies to fraud against the State of Minnesota specifically. Under this law, you could take your employer to court for defrauding the State of Minnesota. In addition, like the procedure for the federal False Claims Act, you may bring a qui tam action against your employer under the Minnesota False Claims Act.
The Minnesota False Claims Act rewards whistleblowers. Indeed, whistleblowers may receive 15 to 30 percent of the damages the employer is required to pay the government.
What Is The Sarbanes-Oxley Act?
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a federal law that addresses company fraud. One important component of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act applies to whistleblowers. Specifically, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects whistleblowing employees of covered companies. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act applies to certain types of companies. For example, if you work for a publicly-traded company or a non-public company with publicly traded debt securities, then the Sarbanes-Oxley Act applies to your company.
What Kinds Of Whistleblowing Does The Sarbanes-Oxley Act Protect?
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects whistleblowing employees of covered companies. Protected whistleblowing under Sarbanes-Oxley occurs when an employee:
- Reveals incriminating information about their employer
- The incriminating information is about their employer’s shareholder fraud, a violation of federal securities law, or a violation of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission rules
- The employee reasonably believes their allegations are true
Whereas other laws protect whistleblowers whose employers violate a wide array of laws, the Sarbanes-Oxley act is specific to certain types of violations of the law—those pertaining to securities fraud.
Does The Sarbanes-Oxley Act Prohibit Employer Retaliation?
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects whistleblowers from employer retaliation. If your employer retaliated against you for whistleblowing, you may be able to sue your employer under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act allows employees who shed light on their employer’s fraud—including mail, wire, bank, or securities fraud—to sue their employers for retaliation.
There is a special procedure to bring a retaliation claim against your employer under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The first step for an employee is to file a written complaint. You must file the written complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In addition, you must file your written complaint within a set time limit. The time limit to file your written complaint is within 180 days after your employer retaliated against you. Meeting this deadline is crucial.
Thus, if you experienced employer retaliation for shedding light on the truth, you should reach out to a skilled employment law attorney who will advocate for you. The knowledgeable attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers can assess whether you have a Sarbanes-Oxley retaliation case. In addition, the experienced attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers know how to navigate the process of bringing a claim against your employer while providing employees with aggressive representation.
Does The Sarbanes-Oxley Act Apply To Former Employees?
If you no longer work for your employer, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act may still apply to you. For example, if your ex-employer retaliated against you when they still employed you, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act applies.
Does The Sarbanes-Oxley Act Protect Independent Contractors From Retaliation?
It depends. Indeed, whether The Sarbanes-Oxley Act applies to you as an independent contractor depends on how much control the company had over your work. Examples of control include setting your schedule and having you complete work at a company office. Even if you are an independent contractor, you may still have protection under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
What United States Agencies Enforce Laws That Protect Whistleblowers?
Several United States Agencies enforce laws protecting whistleblowers. They include:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- Mine Safety and Health Administration
- Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
- Wage and Hour Division
- Veterans’ Employment and Training Service
What Is The Occupational Safety And Health Act?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act is a federal law that protects employees. Its purpose is to ensure that employees have safe working conditions that do not harm their health. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide their employees with a safe working environment.
If your employer has violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you have a right to report it. Indeed, you may file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Act if you find that your workplace is dangerous. Additionally, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for making a report. Thus, the Occupational Safety and Health Act is another federal law that protects whistleblowers.
There are several common types of Occupational Health and Safety Act violations. The most common violation involves scaffolding. Other typical violations pertain to the risk of falling and failure to provide respirators. If you believe that your employer is failing to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you should reach out to a knowledgeable employment law attorney. The attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers focus on advocating for employees and have the expertise needed to protect your rights.
What Is The Minnesota Occupational Safety And Health Act?
Minnesota has implemented a state-level version of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which also protects whistleblowers who report violations of it.
What Is The IRS Whistleblower Act?
The IRS Whistleblower Act is similar to the False Claims Act but applies to tax fraud. The False Claims Act does not cover tax fraud. However, if your employer has committed tax fraud, the IRS Whistleblower Act rewards you for blowing the whistle on your employer.
You may get a monetary reward if you report your employer’s tax fraud. Indeed, the IRS Whistleblower Act requires that whistleblowing employees receive between 15% and 30% of fines the IRS collects from their employer.
Minnesota Whistleblower Lawyer
As an employee in Minnesota, you have rights under Minnesota law and federal law. Your employer must comply with state and federal laws and must maintain a safe workplace for you. Several laws may protect you if you blew the whistle on your employer and fired, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against you. You may be able to sue your employer for damages. Even if your employer has not retaliated against you, you may be able to sue your employer per Minnesota or federal law.
Discovering your employer broke the law can be a stressful experience. However, a skilled employment law attorney can advocate for you. To learn more, reach out to the expert attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers. Call (612) 294-2200 for a free consultation.