MINNEAPOLIS EMPLOYMENT LAWYER
We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.
We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.
If you are experiencing discrimination or any type of workplace violation, you may feel overwhelmed and alone. But you don’t have to face these challenges by yourself. A Minneapolis employment lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and fight for fair treatment in the workplace.
At our employment law firm, we understand the stress and emotional toll that employment disputes can take on individuals and their families. That’s why we make it our mission to provide compassionate legal representation to every client we serve.
With years of experience helping employees throughout Minneapolis, our employment lawyers can provide the support and guidance you need to recover the compensation you qualify for in your case.
Minnesota is an at-will employment state. In other words, as long as it’s not unlawful, your employer is free to terminate you for any reason, including one that’s inaccurate, unjust, or unethical.
When dismissing workers, employers frequently make errors or poor business judgments. However, even if your employer’s activities are improper, arbitrary, or detrimental to their business, they haven’t breached the law unless they decide to terminate your employment for an unlawful cause.
These cases are referred to as wrongful termination claims by employment attorneys.
At our firm, we use “wrongful termination” as shorthand for our clients because most of the illegal reasons for termination that form the basis for a lawsuit are: discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblowing.
|Illegal Act||Laws and Protections||Examples of Illegal Acts|
|Discrimination||The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) states that the Minnesota Human Rights Act and federal laws prohibit discrimination based on race, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, and other protected classes.||Refusing to hire someone because of their lesbian sexual orientation.|
|Retaliation or Reprisal||Minnesota and federal laws prevent employees from experiencing retaliation when they report unlawful discrimination.||Firing an employee for reporting age discrimination against them.|
|Retaliation for Whistleblowing||Federal and state laws shield whistleblower employees from retaliation if they report unlawful conduct.||Firing an employee for reporting company misconduct or illegal activity.|
|Retaliation for Using Medical Leave||FMLA allows eligible employees up to 90 days of medical leave, and it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who exercise their rights.||Firing an employee for taking FMLA leave to care for their child.|
|Workers’ Compensation Retaliation||Minnesota law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim.||Firing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting a workplace injury.|
|Pregnancy Discrimination||State and federal laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination in employment. This is a form of both gender discrimination and disability discrimination.||Refusing to hire a woman because she is pregnant or firing a woman after she becomes pregnant.|
As stated in the table above, employment discrimination claims can arise from various forms of unfair treatment based on disability, race, sex or gender, and age.
Understanding the nuances of each type of discrimination can help employees recognize when their rights have been violated and seek legal recourse.
A hostile work environment claim can be made against your employer even if you haven’t been fired. However, it’s important to recognize that having a rude or unfair boss doesn’t qualify for a lawsuit.
Legally, there is no requirement for kindness in the workplace. To establish a claim, the hostile work environment must be rooted in discrimination.
Claims such as sexual harassment, age, race, sexual orientation, disability, and gender-based discrimination may constitute a hostile work environment.
For a claim to be successful in Minnesota, attorneys must provide evidence that the harassment is directly linked to one of these protected categories, creating a hostile and unwelcoming atmosphere for you.
Minnesota and federal laws mandate that employers pay their employees a minimum wage and provide overtime compensation at a rate of time and a half for any extra hours worked.
Retaliation against employees who report unlawful wage and hour practices is also prohibited, according to state and federal Labor Standards Acts.
There are discrepancies between state and federal minimum wage laws. For example, in Minnesota, large employers must pay a minimum wage of $10.59 an hour, while small employers must pay $8.63 an hour. In contrast, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Minneapolis employers must pay the higher of the two rates, which is the state’s minimum wage.
Minnesota law prohibits employers from making unlawful deductions from employees’ paychecks.
If your employer has deducted money from your paycheck for reasons such as property damage or company debt, you may have a valid unlawful deduction claim that our experienced Minneapolis employment attorneys can assist you with.
Employers must pay employees for all hours worked, and expecting employees to work “off the clock” is illegal. Despite this, supervisors may pressure employees into performing additional work due to their friendly work relationship.
Employers must adhere to federal and Minnesota state labor laws, including paying time and a half for any hours worked over 40 per week (federal) or 48 hours (state).
If your employer fails to comply with these regulations, our Minnesota employment lawyers can file an overtime wage claim on your behalf.
Employment law attorneys often file wage, overtime, or unlawful deduction claims as collective or class actions to represent all affected employees.
Our Minnesota employment lawyers can help employees in cases where employers withhold paychecks, force employees to work outside of scheduled hours or fail to provide proper overtime or minimum wage compensation.
It is uncommon for an employer to acknowledge that it fired an employee for discriminatory reasons. Typically, even if the discriminatory behavior towards an employee was based on age, race, disability, gender, or sexual orientation, the employer will fabricate and present an alternative, non-discriminatory explanation for the termination.
For instance, the employer can state that the employee was terminated due to inadequate job performance. However, to succeed in a legal claim of wrongful termination or discrimination, it is necessary to demonstrate that the employer’s explanation is a pretextual rationale used to avoid revealing the unlawful reason for the termination.
Our experienced employment attorneys utilize various strategies to reveal pretexts in discriminatory workplace situations on behalf of employees in Minneapolis. First, we can provide evidence that the employer’s rationale is erroneous.
We can present evidence that contradicts the employer’s provided reasoning. This may include showcasing a history of excellent performance reviews when an employer claims they fired an employee for poor performance.
This creates a factual inquiry for a jury to determine if the employer’s motive is genuine or a pretext to hide illegal discrimination.
We can further challenge the employer’s rationale by highlighting inconsistencies in the treatment of similarly situated employees.
If an employer cites poor performance as the reason for termination but retains employees with comparable or worse evaluations, we create another factual dispute for the jury to examine.
To prove these claims, our legal team collects evidence demonstrating the mistreatment employees face. We start by establishing that the hostility was based on age, race, sex, disability, or sexual orientation.
We use testimony, comments, drawings, emails, or other relevant evidence to support the claim of discriminatory maltreatment.
The next step is to show that the employee informed management about the problem, but no appropriate measure was taken. For instance, if an employee experiences unwanted sexual comments from coworkers, they must notify their supervisor promptly.
If nothing is done, this highlights the employer’s negligence in addressing the situation, which can strengthen the employee’s claim.
While employers are not automatically responsible for their employee’s actions, they become liable if they are informed of harassment and fail to take corrective measures.
If an employee reports harassment and the employer fails to respond appropriately, the employee has a solid foundation for a hostile work environment claim against the employer.
These claims may be easier to prove than discrimination claims. This is because there is no obligation to establish an employer’s intent, which requires demonstrating their thinking process.
Rather, we need to prove an employee was working for a specific number of hours they were not properly compensated for, or the employer made illegal deductions from their paychecks.
Our legal team will start by reviewing your paychecks and timesheets to identify any discrepancies. Keeping track of any off-the-clock hours is essential, as they can be difficult to prove if your employer fails to document them properly.
In cases where employers have not maintained accurate records, an employee’s statement alone can indicate the number of hours worked “off the clock.” This allows us to seek appropriate compensation for unpaid hours and ensure that employees’ rights are protected.
A “statute of limitation” is the time you have to bring a lawsuit. If you don’t bring a lawsuit within the deadline, you are barred from bringing your lawsuit.
For discrimination, hostile work environment, and wrongful termination claims, you must move quickly since these are among the shortest statutes of limitation in any area of law.
You have just one year to bring discrimination and wrongful termination claims under Minnesota law. And you have even less, just 300 days, to bring discrimination and wrongful termination claims under federal law.
Under federal law, you must first file your claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and get a right-to-sue letter from EEOC before you can file suit.
But the good news is that once you file with EEOC, your statute of limitations is “tolled,” meaning it doesn’t keep running while it’s pending with EEOC.
So when the EEOC sends you a right-to-sue letter, you will have 90 days to bring a lawsuit after you receive the letter. If you don’t bring suit within that time, you will lose your right to sue on those employment claims forever.
For minimum wage, overtime, unpaid wages, and unlawful deductions claims under either Minnesota or federal law, you have a two-year statute of limitations or three years if you can show that your employer’s violation was “willful.”
But your look-back period is only two to three years. For instance, say that you worked for an employer for five years and they didn’t pay you overtime even though you routinely worked more than 40 hours.
You should bring your lawsuit as quickly as possible because if you wait a year and a half, your look-back period of two years will only allow you to recover about 6 months’ worth of damages.
Even if you get a three-year look-back period because you can show willfulness, you’ll still only get about a year and a half of damages. On the other hand, if you file suit right away, you could recover a full two or three years’ worth of overtime pay plus liquidated damages you’re owed.
For workers’ compensation retaliation claims, you have a six-year statute of limitations in Minnesota. So if you bring suit within six years of the retaliation (usually your termination), you’re within the time allowed.
You could be eligible for additional damages depending on which employee rights were violated. If you see your case type below, you could be eligible for the following damages:
As we mentioned above, it depends on the kind of case. For a wrongful termination, discrimination, or hostile work environment case, you’ve got 300 days for your federal claims and one year to file for state claims. For a worker’s compensation retaliation case, you have six years.
For minimum wage, unpaid overtime, unlawful deductions, and unpaid wages cases, you have two or three years if you can show willfulness. In addition, you have two years to file for claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA claims).
As outlined in the table, federal and state laws prevent employers from making employment decisions (like hiring, promotions, or firing) based on immutable criteria like race, sex, age, disability, and sexual orientation. These laws also generally protect employees who make reports of discrimination or illegal workplace conduct from retaliation.
Several types of claims address all forms of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. A Minnesota employment lawyer can advise you on the best approach to your claim.
Under Minnesota and federal laws, employees who experience wrongful termination or discrimination may be entitled to various damages, including back pay, emotional distress compensation, and attorney fees.
In some cases, employees may even be entitled to getting their job back, may collect punitive damages, or receive treble damages (three times the amount of their actual damages).
For hostile work environments and worker’s compensation retaliation, state and federal laws allow for recovery of lost wages and hard costs, in addition to the damages above.
Similarly, in minimum wage, overtime, and unlawful deductions cases, employees may recover up to three years worth of unpaid wages or overtime pay, plus an equal amount as liquidated damages, along with attorney fees and costs.
Speak with a Minneapolis employment attorney to determine the damages you may be eligible for.
Our Minneapolis employment attorney works on a contingency-fee basis. That means you’ll never see an hourly bill or invoice from us. Our fee is contingent on you winning your case and receiving compensation from a settlement or verdict; if that doesn’t happen, we don’t get paid.
This allows us to help clients who can’t afford to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour. So the bottom line is that you don’t need to worry about if you can afford to pay a lawyer because you’ll never pay anything out of pocket. Our fee only comes as a percentage of the settlement we win for you.
Excellent question. A lot of analysis goes into this, and a lawyer from our Minneapolis team can explain how it works for your specific case. However, the bottom line is that the value of your case, either at settlement or trial, depends on several things, including:
Your priorities in your employment law case are the first step. If you want a trial lawyer to get the most value for your case by preparing your case for trial from day one, we may be perfect for you.
However, if you’re looking for a quick settlement from a volume-based firm, that’s not our business model. There may be better choices out there for you.
In your search for a lawyer for your employment claim, make sure that the lawyer has experience with your type of claim. Some lawyers will claim to have a wide range of casework to get you in the door and fail to win the settlement you need.
Our practice represents Minnesota employees in various employment matters, including wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, FMLA, minimum wage and overtime, disability, workers’ compensation retaliation, and hostile work environment claims.
We take pride in successfully defending employees against large corporations who have violated the law.
These are only a few of the concerns that employees and workers have after being wrongfully terminated by their company. For you to begin the process of returning to your regular life, our employment attorneys can assist you in finding the answers to these concerns.
When you approach us with an employment law issue at our law firm, our priority is to work diligently to secure the compensation you deserve. Our experienced team is committed to developing a tailored strategy that maximizes your chances of success.
We understand the importance of protecting your rights and resolving your employment concerns fairly.
First, get in touch with us to explain the situation you are in. You’ll then have a five to ten-minute conversation with a member of our staff. They’ll learn some basic details about you and your situation.
When you call, please be prepared to provide the following details:
Preparing this information will enable us to move faster and better address your employment law concerns.
We will get back to you, usually within a few hours. We may recommend you lawyers, organizations, or agencies if we believe they would be better equipped to handle your issue if your possible case falls a bit outside of our field of experience.
We aim to ensure you receive the most suitable assistance for your circumstances. If it’s not us, we’ll do our best to let you know as soon as possible and set you on the right path.
If we can assist you with your employment law issue, we will schedule a meeting for you to speak with one of our skilled employment lawyers. During this meeting, we will discuss your case in detail, providing you with our honest and professional evaluation of its merits.
Please have any necessary paperwork on hand before speaking with our employment attorneys. This could, for instance, include:
Time is of the essence in employment claims. Therefore, delaying may cause you to miss the limited time frame for filing claims. In such cases, statutes of limitation may prohibit any future claims against your employer.
We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients.
We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely. We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case. We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well. We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case. We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial.
Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward. Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.
If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit. Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required. We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points. Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims. A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations. Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.
Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions. Not us. Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity. We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case. Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections. We view this as a wonderful opportunity. In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on. We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t. The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts. We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny. Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true. And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA. That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.
One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery. We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery. This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses. This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.
This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible. So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true. That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes. We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is. We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.
The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases. We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery. We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.
Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.
After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.
This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries. We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials. At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct. As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.
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