As some Minnesota residents may know, speaking out about an employer's illegal or unethical behavior is protected under the law. The employer may not retaliate against the employee due to his or her disclosure. A whistleblower lawsuit may be filed against a former employer if this right to speak out is threatened.
A case before the Minnesota Supreme Court recently demonstrated this principle. A former dean of Globe University reported what she called the school's unethical and misleading practices towards students and was terminated after disclosing this information. According to court documents, the dean said that the university used tactics to recruit students that were not in the students' best interests.
The dean filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university when she was fired despite having been given a raise and a good performance report. The university initially denied that the dean's dismissal was due to her performance but later, during court proceedings, school authorities recanted that statement. The jury, in this case, decided in the dean's favor, and the school was ordered to pay about $1 million.
Globe University petitioned to appeal the decision, but the Supreme Court denied the university's right to do so. The denial comes after a litany of lawsuits by former students, the attorney general of Minnesota and another dean. Several university departments have since been closed. When an employee speaks out against illegal or fraudulent practices, the employer is not legally allowed to retaliate.
An individual in this position may benefit from speaking with an attorney. The attorney may review the employee's case and, if retaliation occurred due to employee disclosures concerning workplace violations, the attorney may help mount a whistleblower lawsuit against the employer. This might help the employee recover losses that occurred because of wrongful termination or other retaliatory measures as a result of the disclosure.
Source: Huffington Post, "Minnesota Supreme Court Denies Globe University's Petition for Appeal in Whistleblower Ruling," Kyle McCarthy, March 27, 2015