John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Whistleblower Protection Act and the rights of a whistleblower

The role of a whistleblower is a vital one in society and the workforce. Without individuals taking the proper steps to blow the whistle, corruption, fraud, unsafe practices and mistreatment could continue in workplaces in Minnesota and elsewhere in the nation. It is a difficult step to take, and brave employees every day report illegal practices in the workplace. A major reason why employees are able to take these huge, challenging actions is the Whistleblower Protection Act.

The Whistleblower Protection Act, which has sense been supplemented in 2012, was passed as an initiative to prevent employees from taking retaliatory action against employees that have filed a complaint regarding any wrongdoings occurring in the workplace.

In order for the Act to protect the rights of a whistleblower, the individual who blew the whistle must have reasonably believed that a wrongdoing or illegal action has occurred. This often means providing evidence of a violation of a law, rule or regulation, evidence of gross mismanagement, proof of gross waste of funds, evidence of an abuse of authority or evidence that indicates substantial and specific danger to the health and safety to the public.

Prior to the enhancement of the Act, whistleblowers were not protected if he or she made disclosures of the wrongdoings to a supervisor. The recent changes have broadened the scope of disclosures involved in whistleblower claims.

When an employee blows the whistle, many questions may be running through his or her mind. It could be a difficult and emotional event to process, especially if the employee is being retaliated against. It is important for whistleblowers to fully understand the situation as well as what rights and options are afforded to them.

Source: Payscale.com, "What You Should Know About the Whistleblower Protection Act," Dan Kalish, June 29, 2015

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