While this blog has discussed it on previous occasions, it may be helpful to review the basics of Minnesota’s wrongful discharge claim, which is available to employees under the common law of Minnesota. Sometimes, Minneapolis residents might get confused about the difference between wrongful discharge and other legal claims based on an illegal or discriminatory firing.
In fact, there are a number of ways that employers can run afoul of the law when firing an employee. If there is an employment contract in force, for instance, then an employee who gets fired can sue for a breach of contract and demand compensation for the financial losses they suffered by not getting the benefit of their bargain. Likewise, there are state and federal statutes, which allow a victim to collect back pay, as well as attorney fees, when an employer violates anti-discrimination or certain anti-whistleblower provisions in the law. In Minnesota, the courts have also identified a wrongful discharge claim, which may apply to certain circumstances.
The interesting feature about this type of claim is that it is a tort, that is, one based on social principles of right and wrong and not on a contract or the specific language of a law. In other words, Minnesota recognizes that in some limited cases, it is simply not right to fire someone, even though Minnesota is generally an employment at will state.
The benefit to a wrongful discharge claim is that the victim can also ask for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Moreover, in extreme cases, punitive damages may even be awarded.
It is important for the victim of an unlawful termination to recognize all of his or her potential legal claims. Doing so, usually with the help of an experienced employment attorney, can help residents of the Twin Cities get all of the compensation they deserve after being unjustly fired.