This blog has on previous occasions mentioned that several laws protect Minnesota workers from adverse action should they decide to report law violations to authorities. These so-called whistleblower laws are enacted at both the state and federal levels.
Perhaps the broadest legal protection employees in the Minneapolis area enjoy is provided under state law. In Minnesota, employees enjoy protection for reporting violations of both the law and regulations issued under the law. The report can be to any agency or other branch of the government as well as to anyone who has authority to enforce laws.
The state’s whistleblower protections are broad. An employee is allowed to report suspected or intended law violations and does not have to wait for a violation to actually take place.
Moreover, the report need only be made in good faith, meaning that an employee may still get protection even if it turns out that the employee was mistaken. Of course, an employee may still be disciplined if he or she lies about misconduct.
The law also provides protection to employees who assist authorities who are handling an investigation of the employer’s activities. Likewise, an employee has some more limited protection should he or she decline to follow an employer’s instructions if the employee has a good reason to believe the instructions are illegal.
An employer need not fear whistleblowers if it simply follows the law. Unfortunately, instead of just following the straight and narrow, many employers in Minnesota may be willing to discriminate, either subtly or openly, against employees whom the employer sees as tattletales or troublemakers.
Such behavior is in and of itself illegal, and an employee who finds himself or herself fired or punished for standing up for what is right may have remedies available to him or her.