Learning your employer has engaged in illegal activity, or being asked to perform illegal work tasks, is a very troubling and serious situation to find yourself in. You may want to report such activities, but may fear your employer will retaliate against you if you blow the whistle. However, Minnesota law provides workers in the state with whistleblower protection.
Per Minnesota Statutes section 181.932, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers by firing, disciplining, threatening, penalizing or discriminating against them, if the worker has in good faith reported what he or she believes to be his or her employer’s violation of federal or state law or rules, to a governmental body. This rule also applies if the worker is asked by a public office to take part in an official inquiry, hearing or investigation. In addition, it applies if the worker refuses to obey his or her employer’s orders if he or she has an objective basis to believe that doing so would be illegal.
Moreover, if the worker makes such a reporting to a governmental body, that worker’s identity may remain anonymous. Anonymity applies if the worker would not have reported such information without first being assured that his or her identity would remain secret, due to concerns of employer retaliation, or if the governmental body reasonably believes the worker would not have provided that information otherwise, due to fear of retaliation.
These laws are important not only to protect workers from illegal employer retaliation, but also to ensure that the appropriate agencies are informed when an employer is breaking the law. Often, employee tip-offs are the only means an agency has to discover this information. Therefore, workers who do so have the law at their side, and should their rights be violated, have the right to explore whether legal action is a possibility.