Workplace safety laws and regulations exist to ensure that employers, particularly those in dangerous industries, keep their employees as safe as possible. An employer’s failure to abide by such laws can and should mean serious consequences. That’s exactly what isn’t happening in North Dakota’s booming oil and gas industry.

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver spent twenty minutes talking about the problem on his show last night:


Since 2006, there has been an average of at least one death every six weeks in North Dakota’s oil fields. Yet, as Oliver explains, the lack of regulation and enforcement in North Dakota, combined with legal loopholes, have given employers little incentives to substantively address the safety epidemic.


Madia Law welcomes Cody Blades to our team as an Associate Attorney. Cody joins us after a judicial clerkship at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. In addition to being a phenomenal writer, Cody is tenacious, funny, and deeply passionate. We are thrilled to be working with her.


To help welcome Cody, Madia Law invites our colleagues and clients to a happy hour in downtown Minneapolis on October 22 from 5-8. Please email Josh or Ashwin for further information.

Read more about Cody at:


On Thursday, a Miami federal jury ordered Moreno Farms Inc., a produce farming operation in southern Florida, to pay $17.4 million to five former employees who were victims of sexual harassment and retaliation. The award was for $15 million in punitive damages and $2.4 million in compensatory damages.

Minnesota and Wisconsin Sexual Harassment Attorneys

The victims were hired between October and December 2011 to work as vegetable packagers inside the farm’s warehouse facility. The farm owner’s sons, who were also supervisors, were among three supervisors accused of sexually harassing female migrant workers, including groping and raping them. According to the Complaint in the case, the female workers were also victims of offensive comments and repeated threats that they would be fired if they refused the men’s sexual advances. In one instance, Omar Moreno allegedly told one plaintiff who rejected his repeated propositions for sex, “I know you need this job, you need to do what I say or you will die of hunger.” The Complaint also alleged that some of the victims were raped inside mobile home trailers near the area where they worked and that all of them were eventually fired by the farm in retaliation for refusing their harassers.

“Having long been silenced by shame and fear, this trial offered these five women the opportunity to give voice publicly to their experiences and their desire for justice,” Beatriz André, an EEOC lawyer said in a statement.


In a much-anticipated and long-awaited decision released today, the National Labor Relations Board dodged answering the question of whether college athletes are employees. The ruling, which relates to Northwestern University Football players, was made on jurisdictional grounds. As a result, it leaves open the possibility that other college athletes might be able to unionize.

The unanimous decision can be read here.


A Riviera Beach, Florida police officer in now on paid administrative leave after a video recorded on a mobile phone showed him confronting a disabled U.S. Army veteran parked in a parking space reserved for individuals with disabilities. Although the veteran had a properly displayed handicapped parking permit, the police officer confronted him because, according to the officer, the veteran didn’t look disabled. The veteran began recording the incident and says that the officer slapped the phone out of his hand, damaging it. The police department says the incident is being investigated.

MN Police Abuse Lawyers

In July 2014, Madia Law obtained a successful trial verdict against a Metro Transit Police officer for similar conduct. The officer confronted our client on the Metro Transit light rail and asked for his train fare and identification. When our client provided both, and the officer then questioned the legitimacy of our client’s disability, asking “What’s the matter with you? You don’t seem disabled to me?” The jury found that the officer violated the 4th Amendment’s guarantee of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.


Today, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a Madia Law victory in Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard, a historic case challenging the constitutionality of South Dakota’s bans on marriage equality for same-sex couples.

On January 12, 2015, the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota entered judgment in favor of six same-sex couples represented by Madia Law, declaring:

SDCL 25-1-1, SDCL 25-1-38, Article 21 § 9 of the South Dakota Constitution, and any other provision of state law that precludes people from marrying or refuses to recognize an existing marriage, solely because the individuals are of the same gender are unconstitutional because they violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard, No. 4:14-CV-04081-KES, 2015 WL 144567, at *11 (D.S.D. Jan. 12, 2015). The court further ordered that, “defendants are enjoined from enforcing those laws or otherwise declining to issue a marriage license solely because the applicants are of the same gender.” Id.

The court also ordered that, “the effects of [the] judgment will be stayed until the judgment is final.” Id. The State defendants appealed to the 8th Circuit. While the appeal was pending, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, a decision that should have spelled immediate victory for the plaintiffs in the South Dakota case. Instead, the South Dakota Attorney General chose to continue being an impediment to equality, unnecessarily delaying the inevitable and continuing to drive up the costs of the litigation by making a motion at the 8th Circuit that sought to rewrite the history books, pretending as if South Dakota never violated the Constitution.

Today, the 8th Circuit rejected that argument, allowing the district court judgment invalidating South Dakota’s marriage bans to take permanent effect. This is important. The district court ordered,“defendants are enjoined from enforcing those laws or otherwise declining to issue a marriage license solely because the applicants are of the same gender.” 2015 WL 144567, at *11.

But on July 2, 2015, the Attorney General publicly stated that clerks may refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons. As the district court’s order makes clear, the Attorney General is wrong. Clerks who treat same-sex couples differently than different-sex couples—for any reason whatsoever—violate the Constitution. Any clerk who does so will face a lawsuit.


Someone forwarded this to me and I loved it – great visual representation and acknowledgement of all the hard work that people put into this cause prior to the Supreme Court’s decision.  Enjoy.


A Virginia police officer has resigned after being accused of using excessive force when responding to a call about a potential hit-and-run. Fredericksburg, VA Police Officer Shaun Jergens was among several who responded to a reported accident on May 4, 2015. Jergens, apparently like the other officers on the scene, assumed that a black man in a stopped car was being noncompliant.

Minneapolis Civil Rights Attorneys

In actuality, the man had apparently suffered a stroke. Despite no evidence of willful and active resistance, the officers proceeded to taze and pepper spray the man. Once they had him out of the car and on the ground, the man’s foot was then run over by his own vehicle. Reports the NY Daily News:

“It was dispatched via the radio that citizens reported that the suspect was moving around a lot inside of his vehicle,” Jergens said in a statement to the Free Lance-Star. “I believed that the suspect may be looking for a weapon or looking to conceal a weapon based on this information and the fact that he was believed to be fleeing a felony (hit and run of an occupied vehicle).”

Although most police officers are good people, too often, cops treat all citizens that they interact with as both criminals and as people undeserving of respect. This can be the result of a police department that fosters such a culture. Madia Law represents victims of police misconduct, excessive force, and unlawful arrest. It is a violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution when cops act in such manners. Federal law allows victims of police abuse to file federal lawsuits.


In a nearly unanimous Supreme Court decision released yesterday, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for refusing to hire a Muslim job applicant because she wore a hijab to a 2008 job interview.

Minnesota Religious Discrimination Employment Attorneys

While Abercrombie won at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court reversed that opinion and the accompanying notion that “actual knowledge” of a necessary religious accommodation is required to find discrimination. The Court explained, “an applicant need only show that his need for [a religious] accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision.” Because Abercrombie had a “Look Policy” in place that prohibited black clothing and “caps,” the Court explained that it ran afoul of Title VII‘s prohibition on religious discrimination even without more than an “unsubstantiated suspicion” that religious accommodation would be necessary.

Having clarified the legal test, the Supreme Court remanded the case for further consideration to determine whether in fact Abercrombie discriminated against the plaintiff.

Madia Law represents victims of religious discrimination in the workplace. State and federal law in Minnesota and Wisconsin prohibit employers from choosing not to hire someone based on the person’s religious beliefs (or perceived religious beliefs).


Retail giant Wal-Mart is being sued by a group of former employee pharmacists who say they were required to work outside the stores but were not paid for that work. In an amended complaint filed a few weeks ago, the former employees argue that they were required to study and take immunization training at home but were not paid for that time.

MN Unpaid Wages Attorneys

“Wal-Mart pressured pharmacists to attend and complete the training course in a variety of ways that relayed to plaintiffs and putative class members it was not voluntary,” their amended complaint said.  [click to continue…]


The Supreme Court To Address Marriage Equality Litigation

May 3, 2015

Historic, unprecedented, monumental… no single word fully encapsulates the magnitude and impact the past three years have had on marriage rights for gay and lesbian Americans. By the end of next month, the Supreme Court will decide whether gay and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry and whether states can permissibly deny them of […]

Read the full article →

The Most Uncomfortable Truth About Police Brutality

April 13, 2015

In an article published in The Week on Friday, Scott Lemieux reminds readers of one of the most troubling aspects of the murder of Walter Scott in North Carleston, South Carolina: if it wasn’t for the fact that it was captured on video by a bystander the police didn’t know existed, chances are Michael Slager would […]

Read the full article →

Lawsuits Highlight Problems with Classifying Workers as Non Employees

March 22, 2015

On March 11, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California handed down opinions in Cotter v. Lyft, Inc., and O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc. The opinions, which represent at least a temporary win for the drivers who brought suit, highlight the ever-increasing difficulties relating to the classification of employees pursuant to wage and hour law. […]

Read the full article →

Alabama Police Officer Paralyzes Visiting Grandfather

February 13, 2015

A problem with officers who engage in violations of the 4th Amendment (excessive force, unlawful arrest, and unreasonable search and seizure)  is that they fall into the habit of acting out of a perceived sense of superiority and/or anger, and generally are not held responsible for that behavior. Thus, they get used to being obeyed regardless of the situation and often forget that the […]

Read the full article →

Madia Law Files Emergency Motion for Marriage Equality Case in South Dakota

February 10, 2015

United States District Court District of South Dakota      Rosenbrahn, et al.,   Plaintiffs,           Daugaard, et al.,   Defendants. Case Type: Civil Rights / § 1983 Case No. 14-CV-4081-KES         PLAINTIFFS’ EMERGENCY MOTION TO VACATE STAY OF JUDGMENT   EMERGENCY MOTION On January 12, 2014, the Court entered judgment, […]

Read the full article →


January 12, 2015

(Sioux Falls, SD)– On January 12, 2015, on behalf of six same-sex couples, Madia Law won a historic civil rights victory in a constitutional challenge to South Dakota’s ban on marriage equality. From the New York Times and the Associated Press: SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge on Monday declared South Dakota’s [bans on marriage equality] unconstitutional, but […]

Read the full article →

U.S. Attorney General Says Title VII Protects Transgender Individuals From Employment Discrimination

December 30, 2014

In a memo dated December 15, 2014 from United States Attorney General Eric Holder to United States Attorneys and other officials, the Attorney General has declared that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964‘s prohibition of sex discrimination encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.   The Attorney General wrote, “The […]

Read the full article →

Whistleblower Protections Go Back Six Years

December 17, 2014

Two days ago, in a win for Minnesota employees, the Minnesota Court of Appeals declared that whistleblower protection under Minn. Stat. § 181.932 extends back six years. The case, which was before the appellate panel pursuant to remand by the Minnesota Supreme Court, is still progressing its way through the courts, with the plaintiff finally set to […]

Read the full article →

Public Must Focus On Tackling Barriers To Police Accountability

December 4, 2014

Practicing in civil rights litigation, we see a lot of police officers abuse their power. Unfortunately, there are many reasons police misconduct usually stays out of the public spotlight. There are myriad systemic barriers to holding bad cops accountable for discrimination, excessive force, illegal search and seizures,  unlawful arrests, and more. They include:  gutting of civilian review authorities, […]

Read the full article →

Federal Court Denies South Dakota’s Motion to Dismiss Marriage Equality Lawsuit

November 14, 2014

  CONTACT: Attorney Joshua Newville office: 612.349.2743 cell: 651.210.7135 –FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE— (Sioux Falls, SD, Nov. 14, 2014)—South Dakota’s marriage equality lawsuit is moving forward after United States Judge Karen Schreier rejected the State’s motion for the case to be dismissed on Friday. The Court heard arguments in Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard on October 17 […]

Read the full article →