John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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What rights does the whistleblower protection act provide?

For the most part, employees in Minnesota are able to get through the work day and the work year without any major negative events occurring in the workplace. But when a violation occurs in the work environment and an employee is aware of it, he or she should feel comfortable in reporting the incident. Furthermore, if one does speak out about the violation one experienced the employer sometimes retaliates. Some employees question whether they have any recourse in this situation.

What rights does the whistleblower protection act provide employers? According to the Whistleblower Protection Program, the act includes more than 20 statutes that protect employees that report violations occurring in the workplace. Specifically, it protects employees from discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination for the adverse action they have taken against the known violations of their employers.

Most commonly, employees speak out about or report violations such as workplace safety, health insurance reform, violation of civil rights and securities law violations. If an employee takes the steps to report these violations, which the state and the federal government seek to promote, an employer is prohibited from retaliating by demoting, firing, blacklisting, intimidating or denying them benefits. If any of these occur, an employee might have a cause of action for the damages caused by retaliation.

Whistleblower protection was put in place in order to encourage the reporting of violations in the workplace while also providing security and safety to the employees that speak out. Those considering reporting violations or those experiencing damaging effects due to reporting should understand their rights. Seeking guidance could help them protect their rights and obtain compensation for the damages they experienced due to their employers' actions.

Source: Whistleblowers.gov, "The Whistleblower Protection Programs," accessed on Oct. 6, 2014

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