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Happy Birthday, Whistleblowers

By

As Minnesota law turns 30, here's what you need to know

This year marks the 30th anniversary of whistleblower law as a fixture of the Minnesota legal landscape. It's an apt time to consider 30 aspects of the law that litigants and their lawyers face in dealding with whistleblowing matters.

It’s been 30 years since Minnesota recognized whistleblowers.

Originally a court-created product of common law, and subsequently a statute enacted and later expanded by the Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota whistleblower law prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees in reprisal for participating in certain legally protected practices. The Minnesota measure, like its counterparts in many other jurisdictions, forbids employers from retaliating against employees who report actual or suspected violations of law to management, participate in governmental investigations, refuse to abide by illegal directives, report substandard health care practices, or fall within other statutory safe havens.

The concept of a whistleblower law is hardly novel, dating back to the Civil War. But it was a newcomer to Minnesota when first recognized by the court of appeals in 1986, and then affirmed by the Supreme Court in mid-1987. Those rulings were sandwiched around enactment of the statute that spells out the rights and obligations of employees and employers dealing with whistleblowing in the workplace.

The 30th anniversary of whistleblowing law in Minnesota can be ascribed to several different dates: November 17, 1986, when the Court of Appeals first upheld a whistleblowing case in Minnesota; May 11, 1987, when the whistleblower law was enacted; June 26, 1987, when the Supreme Court gave its blessing to the measure; or August 1, 1987, when the new statute went into effect. Whichever date is observed, whistleblowing is now celebrating its pearl anniversary in Minnesota.

The concept has become a major tenet in employment law in Minnesota and elsewhere. There are myriad issues that arise in whistleblowing litigation. Commemoration of its 30th anniversary constitutes an appropriate occasion to consider 30 aspects of the law that litigants and their lawyers face in dealing with whistleblowing matters.

1.

Adam & Abe. The first whistleblowing may have taken place in the Garden of Eden, when Eve reported to Adam the perfidy of the snake who induced her to eat the apple. But the concept was not recognized in the eyes of the law until 1863, with the passage of the False Claims Act, a federal law providing cash rewards for those turning in contractors who bilked the U.S. government in supplying materials for the Union army during the Civil War.

Now codified as 31 U.S.C. §3729, the law constitutes the basis for qui tam actions in which citizens can reap rewards for exposing fraudulent government contractors.1 The measure, occasionally referred to as the Honest Abe Law in homage to President Lincoln, is the basis from which modern whistleblowing laws, including Minnesota’s, are derived.

2.

Phipps proceeding. The Minnesota whistleblower law stems from Phipps v. Clark Oil Refining Corp.2 The lawsuit was brought by a cashier at a service station who was fired after refusing to follow a directive from his boss to fill a customer’s gas tank with leaded gas, even though the car was equipped only for unleaded fuel; the attendant believed this to be in violation of the Clean Air Act. The case was unusual in several respects. It arose in the now-vanished era when filling stations actually had attendants servicing vehicles. And, like Lake v. Walmart, another landmark case that created new tort law in Minnesota, it stemmed from a mundane retail transaction.3 More significantly, Phipps occurred in the absence of any employee protection laws in Minnesota. Without a governing statute, the employee claimed that his firing for the refusal to violate the law tortiously violated “public policy.”

The Minnesota Court of Appeals, reversing a decision of the Hennepin County District Court, agreed with the employee and held that the termination was actionable. Even though he was an at-will employee who could be fired for any reason or no reason at all, the claimant could prevail for a violation of “public policy” by establishing that his termination transgresses “a clear mandate of public policy, either legislatively or judicially recognized.”4 The ruling was affirmed eight months later by the Supreme Court, although the “public policy” issue was not central to the decision.5 The discharge, as the Supreme Court observed, is actionable if the employee shows “that the discharge was for an impermissible reason.”6

Meanwhile, the Legislature intervened. In its first session after the appellate court decision, but before the Supreme Court ruled, it enacted the original whistleblower statute, Minn. Stat. §181.932, which has been occasionally amended and, more recently, significantly expanded.

3.

Federal focus. There are a number of other whistleblower-type laws at the federal level, some relatively ineffectual and others more potent.

Federal employees are furnished with a modicum of protection against retaliation, but no claim for damages, under the Federal Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.7 The most prominent whistleblowing statute is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which was enacted in the wake of the corporate scandals at Enron and other publicly traded companies in 2002.8 The statute includes a whistleblowing provision that enables employees who suffer retaliation because of reporting financial or legal improprieties by public companies to pursue civil claims through a combination of administrative and litigation mazes, whose labyrinthine features are of uncertain effectiveness. Its contours are still taking shape, as reflected in a 2014 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court—more than a decade after its enactment.9

Minnesota cases look to federal law in construing the state law.10 This is akin to the way state law generally adopts federal case law interpretations in adjudicating other employment law statutes.11

4.

State support. Modern state whistleblowing laws, like Minnesota’s, date back to the post-Watergate era of the mid-1970s. The improprieties of the Nixon administration ushered in a plethora of laws aimed at encouraging individuals with information about wrongdoing to come forward without fear of reprisal. All 50 state jurisdictions and the District of Columbia now support whistleblower rights, an increase of more than 33 percent since Phipps. The principle usually is based on “public policy” grounds as in Phipps, or statutory provisions, or a combination of both.12

The substantive and remedial portions of these measures vary from state to state. One of the more extensive measures, for example, is the Connecticut measure, which only requires that an employee “suspect” a violation of law.13 In contrast, the law in adjoining New York is described as “impotent” by one commentator.14

Employers in Minnesota with operations or staff in other states need to be mindful of the laws in those jurisdictions, which may differ from Minnesota law. Similarly, employees who work in other states should also be cognizant of the measures in effect in those places.

5.

Statutory situations. Minnesota joined the whistleblowing bandwagon relatively late. By the time the state statute was enacted in 1987, about three dozen states had adopted similar measures, either by statute or common law. The original Minnesota statute, Minn. Stat. §181.932, expressly prohibited employers from taking adverse action against employees who, in good faith, report actual violations of any laws or regulations (subd. 1(a));
are engaged in governmental investigations or hearing (subd. 1(b)); or refuse in good faith to obey an illegal directive (subd. 1(c)), akin to the gas station cashier in Phipps.

The statute only extends to claims made by employees, not independent contractors, unlike the broader construction of the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the Lawson case, and the claims must be made against the employer—not third parties or individual supervisors.15 The court of appeals has precluded individual liability on the part of supervisors or other management personnel.16

6.

Supervisory suits. Despite these rulings, the liability status of individual supervisors or other management personnel has not been definitively decided yet by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The 8th Circuit has held that the state Supreme Court “is likely” to reject the restrictive premise, at least in some common law actions,17 although one dissenting judge differed with this “prediction about Minnesota law.”

7.

Health harm. The Minnesota statute was expanded in 1997 to include a provision dealing specifically with the health care industry. Under Minn. Stat. §181.932, subd 1(d), employees who report any substandard medical matter that “potentially places the public at risk of harm,” even though no violation of law is implicated, are entitled to whistleblower protection. This provision, a rarity in whistleblower laws, furnishes special protection to employees in one particular profession, while the balance of law applies to all Minnesota employers regardless of nature or size, including the state and any of its political subdivisions.18

8.

Widened whistleblowing. The whistleblower law was substantially expanded in 2013. This last modification to the measure included the following important features.

  • Concerns about improprieties may be reported orally, in writing, or electronically;
  • employees are protected against reprisal if they raise concerns about past, present, or “planned” future violations;
  • the concerns may include violation of statutes, government regulations, or the “common law” (such as breach of contracts or torts);
  • employees are covered by the law if they raise concerns in “good faith” (meaning the absence of knowing falsity or reckless disregard of the truth);
  • employers may not take any adverse actions against an employee that might “dissuade a reasonable person making or supporting a report” by a whistleblower;
  • employers also are prohibited from post-employment reprisal, such as giving a bad reference, refusing to give any reference at all, or filing criminal or licensing charges; and
  • state government employees are protected from reprisal for communicating concerns to elected officials.

9.

Defenses delineated. While the enlarged law facilitates whistleblowing claims, employers retain some formidable—and frequently raised—defenses on the merits, in addition to those peculiar to the statute. These include:

  • showing there is no causal connection between the whistleblowing and any subsequent disciplinary action;
  • taking action because of poor work performance by the employee;
  • other legitimate business decisions, including reduction of work force or minimizing expenses.

10.

Minnesota matters. Several other Minnesota statutes have similar implications, although not explicitly regarded as whistleblowing measures. A section of the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)19 forbids employers from retaliating against employees who raise health and safety issues. The Workers Compensation statute20 contains an anti-retaliation provision proscribing employers from taking adverse action against employees because of their filing workers compensation claims.

Another statute, Minn. Stat. §181.937, prohibits reprisals against employees for not contributing to charities or other community organizations. The Human Rights Act also contains an anti-retaliation provision21 that parallels its federal counterpart under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.22 The whistleblower law also may implicate issues under the Government Data Practices Act, which provides that the identity of a whistleblower generally is private data under the Act.23

11.

Procedural points. The whistleblower statute, consistent with general legal principles, is subject to notice pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure and not the heightened pleading provisions of Rule 9, which require specificity for allegations of fraud or other states of mind. Whistleblowers need not specify in pleadings the specific law or regulation being transgressed as long as they plead generally that they were retaliated against for pursuing statutorily protected activities.24 After some years of doubt, the Supreme Court, in Abraham v. County of Hennepin,25 clarified that whistleblowers are entitled to jury trials.

12.

Lodestar law.  Attorney’s fees, which are explicitly recoverable by prevailing claimants under §181.935, are measured by the familiar lodestar approach.26 This necessitates looking at the reasonable time spent on the case by counsel, multiplied by reasonable rates, and subject to some reduction for unsuccessful claims.27

13.

Longer limitations. The whistleblower statute of limitations was initially regarded as encompassing a two-year period. But the Supreme Court last year gave it a longer limitations period, expanding it to six years under the measure for “liability by statute,”28 rather than the combined two-year period for most non-discrimination employment law claims.29

14.

Remedies and restrictions. The law specifically allows for compensatory damages, which may consist of lost income and emotional distress, as well as recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees by a prevailing claimant.30 Injunctive relief also may be sought to reinstate a discharged employee or remove disciplinary matters from a personnel file.31 Punitive damages were initially rejected in Phipps II32 because the doctrine was so new to Minnesota, but the statute allows “any and all damages recoverable at law,”33 and case law permits them, too.34 An exemplary award is governed by the provisions of Minn. Stat. §549.191, which requires court approval to claim punitive damages, as well as bifurcated trial proceedings.

15.

Performance prevails. The three-part McDonnell Douglas standard makes many whistleblower lawsuits resemble discrimination cases, especially from the defense standpoint.35 This defense asserts that the employer had legitimate reasons for its action, usually grounded in performance problems of the employee. To prevail, the employee must then “overcome” the defense by “showing pretext,”—which is to say, demonstrating that the employer’s professed reason for discharge is not genuine.36

16.

Evidentiary enigmas. The evidentiary standard for an actionable whistleblower claim have been ambiguous over the years. In Phipps II, the Supreme Court established a three-part test, requiring first a showing by the claimant that the discharge “may” have been improper, while the employer could show “another reason for the discharge,” and the plaintiff is then required to prove that the discharge was for an impermissible reason.”37 The Supreme Court later clarified, in McGrath v. TCF Bank Savings,38 that an employer’s “legitimate reason” for a discharge can be overcome if the claimant shows that an illegitimate reason “more likely than not” was the reason for the adverse action.

This morphed into the three-part burden-shifting standard used in federal civil rights litigation. In Cokely v. City of Otsego,39 the court of appeals reversed a $380,000 verdict for a whistleblower, holding that the applicable standard consisted of initial establishment by the plaintiff of a prima facie case of whistleblowing activity followed by adverse action by the employee, which then invokes the employer’s obligation to show a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the action, which then shifts the burden back to the employee to demonstrate that the employer’s proffered reason is pretextual. The same standard is used in employment litigation under federal discrimination law as well as the parallel Minnesota Human Rights Act under Sigurdson, supra, and progeny.40

17.

Future fear. Until the law’s expansion four years ago, a suspected violation triggering a whistleblower protection had to be of a past or present infraction, not a fear of future impropriety. Expressing concerns about matters that have not yet occurred—and might never materialize—was not actionable if “no alleged wrongdoing ever started.”41 But that limitation was obviated by the 2013 amendment, which expands protection to reporting to management of a “planned violation of law under §181.932, subd. 1(1).”

18.

Strategic selections. The reprisal provision of the Minnesota Human Rights Act trumps a whistleblower claim. In Williams v. St. Paul Ramsey County Medical Center,42 the Supreme Court held that a whistleblower claim based upon the same underlying facts that predicate a discrimination charge under the Human Rights Act is pre-empted under the “exclusivity” provision of the human rights law.43

The inability of claimants to pursue overlapping claims under both statutes—they must select one or the other—can necessitate some strategic considerations. Discrimination claims have an $8500 ceiling on punitive damages and have a shorter statute of limitations (one year, versus six years under the whistleblower law). But the human rights statute allows for trebling of damages. Litigants with parallel claims need to take these factors into account in deciding which one to assert.

19.

Preemption prevails. The whistleblowing statute does not impair rights under collective bargaining agreements.44 Nor are whistleblowing claims preempted by parallel claims under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).45 But they are not subject to a 1st Amendment defense by religious organizations on grounds of excessive entanglement with ecclesiastical doctrines.46

Federal preemption principles also may apply in some circumstances. The federal Employee Retirement & Income Security Act (ERISA)47 is preemptive of claims implicating ERISA governing plans, as well as some federal transportation laws.48

20.

Immunity issues. Immunity may bar some whistleblowing claims by public sector employees. If the underlying action supporting a whistleblower claim was committed by a group of people, such as a board or a committee, official immunity does not apply, although it may apply to actions taken by individual public sector decision-makers.49 But in no event does statutory immunity apply, because the whistleblower statute is an implied waiver of the statutory immunity provision.50

Another type of immunity, official immunity, has little practical value because whistleblowing offenses usually are regarded as “malicious or willful,” which dispenses with the immunity defenses.51

21.

“Public policy.” The concept of “public policy,” a predicate in the Phipps case that served as a forerunner to the whistleblower statute, still persists. A common law claim of wrongful termination in violation of “public policy” is not preempted by the whistleblower statute. In Nelson v. Productive Alternatives, Inc.,52 the Supreme Court held that a common law “public policy” claim still exists, but it dismissed the lawsuit on grounds that the claimant failed to plead the clearly defined, specific “public policy” that was transgressed in connection with his termination.

Generally, it is preferable to assert a whistleblower claim, which offers broader remedies, including equitable relief under §181.935(a), although a “public policy” claim may be advisable if the episode does not fall within the scope of the whistleblowing statute. The claims may be asserted, in the alternative, to preserve both common law and statutory causes of action, although the Court in Nelson notes that the two claims may be “largely duplicative.”53

22.

“Public policy” punctured. For several years, the Minnesota courts required that whistleblower activities have the purpose of vindicating the broad “public interest,” rather than some insular issue related solely to the whistleblower that is not of broad societal concern. The “public interest” defense, however, was punctured early in 2002 in Anderson-Johanningmeier54 and ultimately deflated a month later in Abraham v. County of Hennepin.55 Those two cases abrogated any requirement that a whistleblower’s activities implicate a “public interest.” They allow claims to be pursued based upon reported violations of law that narrowly affect the whistleblower alone or a small segment of the workforce.

23.

Arbitration actions. Whistleblowing claims may be subject to arbitration. Employers can encompass whistleblowing claims in a standard arbitration agreement, and the claims also may be subsumed in broad language in a grievance-arbitration provision in a collective bargaining agreement.56

But if an arbitration agreement does not embrace whistleblowing claims, the prevailing party in an employment-arbitration proceeding can still pursue a whistleblower claim. Although arbitration may result in reinstatement and back pay for a wrongfully disciplined whistleblower, the fact that the statute allows for broader remedies, including attorney’s fees, led the court of appeals in Grothe v. Ramsey Action Programs, Inc., to permit an employee who won in an arbitration proceeding and obtained her job back, along with back pay, to pursue a subsequent whistleblower action.57

24.

Statutory salvos. The most common type of whistleblower salvo arises under subdivision 1(a) of the statute, which protects employees who make reports of actual or suspected violations of law. Whistleblowers need not prove that the law was violated, but simply that they reported what they believed in “good faith” to be a legal violation. The statute purportedly violated may be any statute, federal or state, or governmental regulation,58 even obscure statutes that are little known and rarely enforced, like the hotel guest registry laws.59 But the whistleblowing must implicate violations of a legal requirement, not merely important practices.60

To invoke the statute, an employee need not make an official or formal report; it suffices if the employee relates or tells management of the infraction, and it need not be in writing, either.61

25.

Constricted construction. Despite the expansion of the law through statutory amendments and some judicial rulings, the courts still cling to the tenet of constricted interpretation of the measure. A number of cases caution against construing the whistleblower law “too broadly.”62

26.

Valid violation. While a whistleblower need not cite the specific statute or regulation that is being violated, there must be some underlying illegality in order for a whistleblower claim to be actionable. Complaints that lack transgression of statutes or regulations are not viable unless they raise civil law concerns such as breach of contract or tortious wrongdoing.

27.

Timing topics. Whistleblower cases typically involve employees who have been disciplined, usually terminated, for reasons that they claim are covered by the statute, while employers generally assert that the employees had performance problems that justified disciplinary action. Poor performance, therefore, constitutes the obstacle that employees usually face in averting summary judgment, which employers invariably seek. There are a number of factors that may be taken into account in determining whether the claimant satisfies the three-part burden-shifting test to hurdle summary judgment.

One topic is the temporal proximity between the whistleblowing activity and the disciplinary action. Although there is no bright-line rule, case law generally demands a relatively short-time frame for inferring retaliatory intent.63

28.

Exposure expected. Whistleblowers who are merely trying to solve a problem may not be statutorily protected. Long-established case law holds that whistleblowers must be motivated to expose wrongdoing, rather than merely calling a problem to the attention of superiors in the workplace for corrective action.64

These cases repeatedly hold that “timing alone” is insufficient to establish an actionable nexus between whistleblowing activity by an employee and adverse action by the employer.65 But as the courts recognize, the cases “tend to paint a complicated picture” on the issue of timing.66A short time-frame, such as five days, can be sufficient to raise an inference of liability,67while six weeks does not.68 The vast ground in between is often a whistleblowing battleground, with employers well advised not to act in a hostile manner in imposing discipline upon a whistleblowing worker.

29.

‘Duty’ defense. One of the most provocative and unsettled doctrines involving whistleblowers has been the “job duty” defense. Under that principle, employees whose whistleblowing activities come within the scope of their job duties are not protected from retaliation. The principle was endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Garcetti v. Ceballos.69 The High Court held, by a 5-4 margin, that public sector employees are not entitled to constitutional protection for retaliation for whistleblowing activities if their whistleblowing activities are done within the scope of their “job duties.” Under that principle, employees become increasingly less protected the higher they are in the chain of command, with top-level personnel receiving minimal protection compared to low-level employees, who have constricted job duties.

Although Ceballos involved a constitutional question, the “job duty” defense has been raised in statutory cases as well, with mixed results in Minnesota and elsewhere. Some cases have adopted the principle, while others have not. Depending upon its scope, the “job duties” defense could eviscerate many whistleblowing claims, especially those of mid-level and high-level employees or others who have broad job-related duties, such as in-house accountants and financial personnel, lawyers, and other professionals.

30.

Minnesota murky. The “duty defense” remains cloudy in Minnesota as a result of the Supreme Court’s fractured ruling in Kidwell v. Sybaritic, Inc.70 A three- member plurality held that the “duty defense” was not a per se defense in a case brought by an in-house attorney, but noted that an employee’s “job duties” may be “relevant” in determining whether the claimed whistleblowing was undertaken for the requisite goal of “exposing an illegality.” But these justices dissented from that view, preferring to discard the “duty” analysis altogether.

The outcome turned on a concurrence by outgoing Chief Justice Eric Magnuson in his last opinion, which was based on the particular issue of the claimant’s breach of fiduciary duty, due to disclosure of confidential data to his father, which left the “duty doctrine” still somewhat murky in Minnesota.

The future fate of whistleblowers remains difficult to forecast. The past 30 years truly have been a roller coaster for them in Minnesota. Emerging and evolving legal doctrines are likely to change the contours of the whistleblowing landscape for both employers and employees. But they can continue to expect a wild ride.

This article was originally published in Minnesota Bench & Bar

Notes

See Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v. United States, 529 U.S. 765 (2000) (Qui Tam case not maintainable by state entities).

2 Phipps v. Clark Oil Refining Corp., 396 N.W.2d 588 (Minn. Ct. App. 11/18/1986) (Phipps I),aff’d. 408 N.W.2d 569 (Minn. 6/26/1987), (Phipps II).

3 See Lake v. Walmart, 528 N.W.2d 231 (Minn. 1998) (right of privacy).

4 396 N.W.2d at 592.

5 The Minnesota statute does not use the word “whistleblower,” a term attached to similar measures in other jurisdictions.

6 408 N.W.2d at 572. The claimant in Phipps also asserted a defamation claim that was dismissed by the trial court but reinstated by the appellate court in Phipps I and affirmed in Phipps II.

7 5 U.S.C. §1211, et seq.

8 15 U.S.C. §7201.

9 Lawson v. FMR, LLC134 S.Ct. 1158 (2014) (applies to independent contractors and subcontractors.)

10 Anderson–Johanningmeier v. Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center, 637 N.W.2d 270 (Minn. 2002).

11 E.g. Sigurdson v. Isanti County, 448 N.W.2d 62 (1989) (following federal law for “continuing violation” under Minnesota Human Rights Act.)

12 See generally V.L. Donalti, Whistleblowers and Other Retaliation Claims, 729 Proc. L. Inst. 1095 1109-27 (2005).

13 Conn. Gen. St. §31 – 51m.

14 S.A. Moss Where There’s At-Will, There Are Many Ways: Redressing The Increasing Incoherence of Employment At Will, 67 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 295, 304 (2005).

15 Schmitt v. Lunch Time Solutions, Inc., 2005 WL 7009049 (Minn. Ct. App. 2005) (unpublished).

16 Obst. v. Microtron, Inc., 588 N.W.2d 550 (Minn. Ct. App. 1999), aff’d., 614 N.W.2d (Minn. 2000).

17 Chavez – Lavagnino v. Motivation Education Training, Inc., 767 F.3d 744 (2014).

18 Minn. Stat. §181.931, subd. 3.

19 Minn. Stat. §182.654, subd. 9.

20 Minn. Stat. §176.82, sub. 1.

21 Minn. Stat. §363A.15.

22 42 U.S.C. §2000e-3(a).

23 Minn. Stat. §181.932, subd. 2.

24 Kratzer v. Welsh Companies, 771 N.W.2d 14, 19 (Minn. 2009).

25 639 N.W.2d 342, 354 – 55 (2002).

26 Chavez – Lavagnino supra.

27 Nelson v. County of St. Louis2011 Minn. App. LEXIS 119 (Minn. App. 2011) (unpublished).

28 Minn. Stat. §541.05.

29 Ford v. Minneapolis Public Schools, 874 N.W.2d 731 (Minn. 2016).

30 Minn. Stat. §181.935(a).

31 Id.

32 408 N.W.2d at 573.

33 Minn. Stat. §181.935(a).

34 See Morrow v. Air Methods, Inc., 884 F. Supp. 1353, 1356-58 (D. Minn. 1995), aff’d. 92 F.2d 1189 (8th Cir. 1996).

35 McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green 411 U.S. 792 (1972); Sigurdson v. Isanti County, 386 N.W.2d 715 (Minn. 1986).

36 Pederson v. Bio-Medical Applications, 775 F.3d 1049 (8th Cir. 2015).

37 408 N.W.2d at 572.

38 509 N.W.2d 365 (Minn. 1993).

39 623 N.W.2d 625, 630 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001), rev. denied (Minn. 5/15/2001).

40 Mack v. Snyder, 471 N.W.2d 715 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991), rev. denied (Minn. 8/19/1991).

41 Grundtner v. University of Minnesota, 730 N.W.2d 323 (Minn. App. 2007) rev. denied (Minn. 7/17/2007).

42 551 N.W.2d 483 (Minn. 1996).

43 Minn. Stat. §363.03, subd. 7.

44 Minn. Stat. §188.937, subd. 4.

45 29 U.S. §651, et al.

46  Black v. Snyder, 471 N.W.2d 715 (Minn. App. 1991), rev. denied (Minn. 8/29/1991)

. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 2006 WL 1529447 (Minn. Ct. App. 2006) (unpublished). 

47 29 U.S.C. §1001, et seq.

48 McLean v. Carlson Companies, 777 F. Supp. 1480 (D. Minn. 1991) (ERISA; Geisinger v. Northwest Airlines, 2006 WL 1529447 (Minn. App. 2006) (unpublished) (RLA); Regner v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 652 N.W.2d 557 (Minn. App. 2002) (Airline Deregulation Act).

49 Janklow v. Minn. Bd. of Examiners for Nursing Home Adm’rs., 552 N.W.2d 711, 716 (Minn. 1996).

50 Id. at 718.

51 Burns v. State, 570 N.W.2d 17 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997).

52 715 N.W.2d 452 (Minn. 2006).

53 715 N.W.2d at 455 n.3. See also Wheale v. Cloquet Community Memorial Hosp., 2003 WL 4667172 (D. Minn. 2003).

54 Note 13 supra.

55 Note 28 supra.

56 Hedglin v. City of Willmar, 582 N.W.2d 897 (Minn. 1998).

57 2006 WL 1529 447 (Minn.  App. 2006) (unpublished).

58 Note 52 supra.

59 Groneweg v. Interstate Enterprises, Inc., 2005 WL 854768 (Minn. App. 2005) (unpublished).

60 Donahue v. Schwesman, Lundberg, Woessmark, Kluth, P.R., 586 N.W.2d 8-11; 813 -14 (Minn. Ct. App. 1998). rev. denied (Minn. 2/18/1999) (law firm billing payroll deductions not actionable).

61 Gee v. MNSCU, 700/148 555 (Minn. 2005). See also: Obst v. Microtron, Inc., supraMcCormick v. Bonner Engineering Corp., 2006 WL 330144 (Minn. Ct. App. 2006) (unpublished).

62 Anderson-JohanningmeiersupraMid-Minnesota Women’s Health Center, Inc., 637 N.W.2d 270, 275. See also Hedglin . City of Willmar, 582 N.W.2d 897 (Minn. 1998).

63 Erickson v. City of Orr, 2005 WL 27773915 (Minn. Ct. App. 2005) (unpublished) (fact dispute whether whistleblower concerns were within job duties); Marano v. Dept. of Justice, 2 F.3d 1137 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (“job duties” rationale rejected); McGinn v. Pa. Rival Water Authority, 2005 WL 373720 (Pa. Comm. Pl. 2005) (unpublished) (“job duties” defense inapplicable).

64 Dietrich v. Canadian Pac. Ltd.¸ 536 N.W.2d 319 (Minn. 1995); Campbell v. Thompson, 845 F. Supp. 665, 675 (D. Minn. 1994) (4-month lapse) suffices; Ring v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 250 F. Supp. 1130 (D. Minn. 2003) (eight month entered too long); Minn. Assn. of Nurse Anesthetics v. Unity Hospital, 59 F.3d 80, 83 (8th Cir. 1995) (“long intervals … undermine the inference” of reprisal).

65 Hilt v. St. Jude Med. S.C., 687 F.3d 375 (8th Cir. 2012).

66 Id.

67 Turner v. Gonzales, 421 F.3d 688 (8th Cir. 2005).

68 Buytendorp v. Extendicare Health Services, 498 F.3d 826 (8th Cir. 2007).

69 547 U.S. 410 (2006).

70 784 N.W.2d 220 (Minn. 2010).