Posts

Brian Rochel Interviewed Regarding COVID-19 and Employment Law

On July 6, 2020, TKKR partner Brian Rochel was featured in an interview by Minnesota Public Radio about current legal protections employees have in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the article here.

Brian discussed the real fear many employees have that if they raise concerns related to COVID-19, they will be retaliated against, by being fired and forced to search for employment during the current difficult economic time. He also discussed how the legal protections related to COVID-19 are uncharted territory for Minnesota courts and the importance of discussing any potential issues with an employment lawyer.

Under Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s Peacetime Emergency Executive Order 20-54, employees are, among other things, protected against retaliation for reporting COVID-19 workplace concerns or refusing to work in conditions that they, in good faith, believe could potentially expose them to COVID-19.

All of these protections contain important caveats, so if you have questions about Executive Order 20-54, or COVID-19 at work, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer. If you are an employee who has experienced difficult circumstances with your employer related to COVID-19, we are here to help. Please contact Teske, Katz, Kitzer, and Rochel, PLLP. We advocate on behalf of employees facing discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower related issues in the workplace.

Minnesota Supreme Court Issues Landmark Disability Discrimination Decision

On February 27, 2019, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a major decision in favor of employees. The case, Daniel v. Minneapolis, addressed whether an employee who is disabled as a result of a work injury can bring a claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). For decades, such employees were prohibited from filing MHRA claims because of a prior supreme court ruling in Karst v. FC Hayer Co., Inc. (issued in 1989). Under Karst, disabled employees were prohibited from bringing human rights claims because they were preempted by Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Consequently, any employee who experienced disability discrimination resulting from a work injury was left without any recourse to remedy the discrimination.

This led to absurd results. For example, if an employee suffered a disabling injury outside of work, she would be protected from discrimination under the MHRA. But if that same employee became disabled at work, she would have no protection from discrimination. Her employer would be free to fire her because of her disability and nothing more. This was bad policy for Minnesotans and was out of step with the rest of the country, with nearly every state rejecting similar interpretations of their own state laws.

In Daniel, the Minnesota Supreme Court corrected that problem and overruled the Karst decision. Writing for a 5-2 majority, Justice Margaret Chutich wrote, “Unlike the workers’ compensation act, the human rights act is a civil rights law that protects employees from unlawful employment discrimination.” The Court recognized the fundamental difference between the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is designed to remedy work injuries, and the MHRA, which is designed to protect disabled employees from discrimination. Because of these differences, neither law preempts the other. Instead, workers have rights under both.

Teske, Katz, Kitzer & Rochel lawyers Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel wrote on behalf of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association in a “friend of the court” or amicus brief, asking the Supreme Court to overrule the Karst decision. “This marks a great step forward for all employees in Minnesota and corrects a decades-long error in the law,” said Phillip Kitzer. “Employees should not be treated differently and denied equal protection simply because they become disabled as a result of a work injury. That is not consistent with Minnesota’s strong history of protecting and advancing human rights,” added Brian Rochel.

If you have any questions about Daniel v. Minneapolis, disability discrimination, workers’ compensation retaliation, or employment law generally, please contact Teske, Katz, Kitzer & Rochel today.

Brian Rochel Presents at NELA’s 2018 Annual Convention

On June 28, 2018, Brian Rochel presented along with co-panelists Kathy Butler and David Schlesinger at the National Employment Lawyers’ Association’s (NELA) 2018 Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

Brian, Kathy and David’s panel, entitled “Outside-The-Box Discovery Tools: Getting Creative with Discovery in The Era of Proportionality,” focused on practical tips and advice for employee advocates.

Brian is an experienced litigator, representing hundreds of workers in lawsuits throughout his career. That work frequently includes fights over discovery—documents and evidence that plaintiffs need to prove their cases.

If you have questions about employment litigation or employment law please contact us and we will be happy to help you.

Brian Rochel Moderates Panel on Proving Damages at Employment Law Institute

On May 21, 2018, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partner Brian Rochel presented a continuing legal education seminar to his peers at the Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute. The Employment Law Institute, billed as “the Nation’s best employment law conference,” is a program that attracted approximately 1,400 lawyers and employment law professionals. Rochel, together with his co-panelists Anna Prakash, Sheila Engelmeier and Kaarin Nelson Schafer, presented a session entitled “What’s the Harm? – Evaluating and Proving Damages.” The discussion focused on methods of proving damages in trial of employment law claims, as well as presenting damages in settlement and pre-litigation contexts.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel’s attorneys regularly practice employment law on behalf of employees. If you have questions about employment law, or would like to learn more about damages and remedies available to employees, contact us today.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel Brings Class Action Employment Lawsuit against City of Minneapolis

On January 6, 2017, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel initiated Stewart, et al. v. The City of Minneapolis, a class action employment lawsuit. The suit is brought in Minnesota District Court, Fourth District–Hennepin County.

Laurence Stewart, the named plaintiff, is a former employee of Minneapolis in its Public Works Department. Stewart seeks classwide relief for himself and all other similar employees. The Complaint alleges that the City’s return to work policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) because it fails to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers.

Mr. Stewart is represented by Brian Rochel, Marisa Katz and Douglas Micko, of Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, PLLP. Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is a class action and employment law firm with decades of experience around the country.

For more information, or if you have been terminated by the City of Minneapolis and have questions about this lawsuit, contact Brian Rochel here or via email at rochel@kitzerrochel.com.

A full press release and copy of the Complaint that has been served are available here:

Press Release

Stewart v. Minneapolis Complaint

Brian Rochel Presents at NELA National Convention in Los Angeles, CA

Brian Rochel presented at the National Employment Lawyer Association’s (NELA) annual convention, held from June 22-25 in Los Angeles, CA. Brian presented as part of a panel entitled, “What I Wish I Knew When I was Starting Out as a Plaintiffs’ Employment Lawyer.” The presentation covered a wide breadth of topics, and was aimed at giving newer attorneys practical advice on how to develop their practices.

Mr. Rochel participated along with co-panelists Elissa J. Hobfoll and Whitney Judkins, and moderator Nina Pirrotti. For more information about NELA and/or the 2016 national convention, click here.

 

Brian Rochel and Phillip Kitzer Present to Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust on ADA, Workers’ Compensation Retaliation, and FMLA Laws

On June 15, 2016, Brian Rochel and Phillip Kitzer presented at the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust’s (MCIT) seminar, Advanced Employment Issues for Public Entities.  The presentation, titled The Intersection of Disability, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Laws, addressed the complications for employers when employees request accommodations related to a disability or work-related injury, or when employees request time off related to a disability, workers’ compensation injury, or FMLA leave.

The MCIT is an entity composed of Minnesota counties and public entities that provides risk management and loss services to its members.  The Advanced Employment Issues for Public Entities seminar was a full day of training for human resources professionals that examined emerging workplace concerns.  Mr. Rochel and Mr. Kitzer primarily represent employees in workplace disputes, but presented to human resources employees multiple examples of mistakes they commonly see made by employers that lead to wrongful termination lawsuits.

Brian Rochel recognized again as North Star Lawyer for pro bono service

Brian Rochel has been designated as a North Star Lawyer for 2015, the third consecutive year Mr. Rochel has received the designation.

The North Star Lawyer designation is awarded to Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) members who provided 50 or more hours of pro bono service in 2015.  The  entire list of recipients will soon be available here.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel Partners Present at 8th Circuit Employment Law Conference

 On April 14, 2016, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partners Brian Rochel, and Phillip Kitzer presented continuing legal education programming at the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) – Eighth Circuit Affiliate conference.

NELA’s Eighth Circuit conference is held every two years, and draws employment lawyers from throughout the Upper Midwest. This years’ conference was held in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. Rochel was invited to speak on a panel that addressed employment law issues unique to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender communities. Mr. Kitzer spoke on the issue of dealing with abusive and harassing litigation tactics.

Phillip Kitzer, Brian Rochel, and Doug Micko Present on Intersection of Disability, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Laws

On October 26, 2015, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partners Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel presented a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar on the intersection between disability discrimination laws under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) and the American’s With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and Workers’ Compensation retaliation (“WCA”).  The presentation was moderated by Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partner Doug Micko, and addressed the complicated legal considerations faced by both employers and employees when an employee has a workplace injury or disability.  The  presentation was made as part of Minnesota CLE’s Employment Law Webcast Series.

To learn more about the disability discrimination, your rights under the FMLA, or your rights under workers’ compensation retaliation, please contact Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel today.