John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Proving employer retaliation after filing a whistleblower claim

Many employees in Minnesota are aware of whistleblower rights and the protection the regulations offer to employees. In most cases, these protective rights are used to prevent employer retaliation after an employee speaks out or files a claim regarding illegal practices and conduct within the workplace. Even though whistleblower rights protect the employee from being retaliated against or terminated for filing a claim, their employer could still retaliate. This is why it is important to understand how to address the situation, document the misconduct and prove that they are dealing with a hostile environment based on their protected conduct.

If an employee is fired based on their blowing the whistle, it is important to document facts and circumstances that could help inference that the employee's discharge was discriminatory and based on their whistleblower claim.

Common facts or actions to be proved include: employer's hostile attitude toward the matter, the employer's knowledge of the whistleblowing, the nature of the whistleblowing, the specific conditions of the employment following the whistleblowing by the employee and those leading up to the discharge, discriminatory treatment of the discharged employee prior to their blowing the whistle, previous expressions of satisfaction with the employee's work, the termination procedure used, the timing of the employee's discharge and any threats of retaliation against other employees that carried out similar whistleblowing.

Other circumstantial evidence to consider involves the performance ratings prior to their engagement in protected activity, the manner in which the employee was informed of their termination, insufficient investigation of the charge against the employee, the transfer, termination or discipline of the employee after the employee blew the whistle, the gravity of the alleged offense and other similar situations.

Understand what evidence could help an employee prove that an employer retaliated against them or created a hostile work environment following a whistleblower claim will be helpful for their case.

Source: Whistleblowers.org, "How does an employee prove discriminatory motive?" accessed on Dec. 29, 2014

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