Employees in Minnesota have protection under both state and federal law when they notify authorities that their employer is conducting practices that violate a state or federal law. Under Minnesota state law an employer cannot fire, discipline, threaten, discriminate against or penalize regarding wages or benefits a whistleblower employee who reports a violation of state or federal law in good faith to an employer, government body or law enforcement. Employers who violate this law may be forced to compensate the employee.
T-Mobile USA was recently ordered to pay $345,000 to a whistleblower employee by the US Department of Labor. The employee had brought concerns about millions of dollars in fraudulent roaming charges assessed against international corporate customers by T-Mobile, which has dozens of stores in the Minneapolis area. Subsequently, the employee was fired in 2009.
The Department of Labor investigated the case following allegations of violations of the federal whistleblower protection laws. The order from the department requires the Bellevue, Washington-based company to reinstate the employee. In addition, the department’s order requires T-Mobile to pay attorney’s fees to the employee totaling $36, 493, compensatory damages of $65,000 and $244,479 in back wages and interest to the employee.
T-Mobile, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom AG, a German company, has stated it will appeal the order. The company states it can prove the employee was fired lawfully and will produce evidence to support that claim on appeal.
Employers, like T-Mobile, are often aggressive in defending these claims. Even so, employees have rights to compensation in these cases and should not be intimated out of collecting what they deserve.
Source: StarTribune, “US Labor Department orders T-Mobile to pay fired whistleblower $345,000; company to appeal,” Brian Bakst, Aug. 9, 2012