Tag Archive for: employment law

Phillip Kitzer Presents at Eighth Circuit Employment Conference in Des Moines, IA

On April 26, 2024, Phillip Kitzer co-presented at the Eighth Circuit chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association conference in Des Moines, Iowa, along with attorney David Albrecht of Fiedler Law Firm. Their session, titled “Eighth Circuit Case Law Update,” offered a comprehensive review of important court decisions affecting employees at the district, appellate, and Supreme Court levels. Their  presentation helped employment attorneys throughout the Eighth Circuit better understand the key legal changes and how they impact the field of employment law.

Phillip is a regular presenter at state, regional, and national employment conferences. If you have questions about Minnesota employment law and how recent court decisions may affect you, contact us today.

Navigating Unique Terrain: Employment Law for Physicians in Minnesota

Physicians play a crucial role in the healthcare landscape, dedicating their expertise to the well-being of patients. However, the practice of medicine isn’t just about patient care; it’s also about understanding the legal framework that governs employment in the medical field. In Minnesota, like in many other states, physicians encounter a unique set of employment laws that require careful navigation. In this post, we explore several distinctive aspects of employment law specifically relevant to physicians in Minnesota.

Licensing and Credentialing:

Minnesota has its own licensing and credentialing requirements for physicians, which can impact their employment. From obtaining a medical license to privileges at specific hospitals or healthcare facilities, physicians must adhere to state regulations. Moreover, credentialing processes can vary between institutions, requiring physicians to stay abreast of each entity’s specific requirements. Failure to maintain proper licensure or credentials can jeopardize employment opportunities and professional standing.

Whistleblower Protections:

Physicians, as advocates for patient safety and ethical medical practices, may find themselves in situations where they need to report wrongdoing or unsafe conditions. Minnesota law provides protections for whistleblowers who report violations of law or regulations in good faith. In fact, Minnesota law provides specific protections for any employee who reports a concern about the standard of patient or healthcare. Navigating whistleblower protections can be complex, as physicians must ensure their actions are lawful and in the best interest of patient care while also safeguarding themselves from retaliation.

Wage and Hour Laws:

Physicians, especially those in residency programs or employed by healthcare institutions, are subject to both Federal and Minnesota wage and hour laws. Understanding regulations regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, and meal and rest breaks is crucial for both employers and physicians. Additionally, residency programs must comply with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) standards, which include duty hour restrictions to prevent physician fatigue and ensure patient safety.

Telemedicine Regulations:

With the rise of telemedicine, physicians must also be aware of the regulatory landscape governing remote healthcare services in Minnesota. State laws dictate licensure requirements, patient consent protocols, and standards of care for telemedicine practitioners. Physicians engaging in telemedicine must adhere to these regulations to avoid legal repercussions and ensure quality patient care.

In conclusion, employment law for physicians in Minnesota presents a complex and evolving landscape that requires careful attention to detail and compliance. If you have questions about employment law generally, or how it applies in the physician or healthcare setting, contact experienced attorneys at Kitzer Rochel, PLLP today.

Hennepin County Jury Awards Landmark Verdict of Over $4.6 Million in Whistleblower Case

In January 2024, Brent Bullis, a radiologist and senior shareholder of Consulting Radiologists, Limited (CRL) in Eden Prairie, was granted a historic jury verdict of $4.6 million in a case against his employer for wrongful termination.

Dr. Bullis brought a claim against CRL and Allina Health System for retaliation in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Dr. Bullis alleged that he was terminated in retaliation for his reports of sex discrimination, billing fraud, patient care violations, and illegal and fraudulent activity to CRL. Dr. Bullis, who had worked with CRL for over 18 years, brought forth these concerns to leadership out of good faith and hope that CRL would change its practices so that he could continue his career at CRL. However, when CRL repeatedly failed to act, he warned that he would have to report his concerns to Allina Health, the parent company of Abbott Northwestern Hospital where Dr. Bullis practiced through CRL. In response, CRL terminated his employment. 

While Bullis’ claims against Allina Health were dismissed in August 2023, his claims against CRL proceeded to trial. After a two-week long trial, the jury ruled in favor of Dr. Bullis and granted him $ 4,587,602 in damages. The damages calculation included actual and compensatory damages, including past and future wage loss and emotional distress.  

This damages award was a significant victory for Dr. Bullis, for employment rights advocates, and for future plaintiffs. A jury award this high shows that the Minnesota community does not tolerate employers who retaliate against their employees for reporting ethical and legal violations and safety concerns. The inclusion of emotional distress damages also recognizes that the effects employees face after discrimination in their workplace extends beyond just the loss of a paycheck. Losing a job often leads to significant effects on a person’s mental and physical health, reputation, and dignity.  

If you have questions about employment law, or feel that your rights may have been violated, contact Kitzer Rochel today.

Protecting Workers’ Rights: Understanding Employment Retaliation Laws in Minnesota

In the dynamic landscape of employment, workers’ rights and protections stand as pillars of ensuring fair treatment and equitable conditions in the workplace. Among these safeguards is the prohibition of employment retaliation, a crucial aspect of labor laws designed to shield employees from adverse actions by employers in response to protected activities. In the state of Minnesota, stringent laws are in place to safeguard workers against retaliation, fostering a culture of fairness and respect in the workplace.

Minnesota’s employment retaliation laws are enshrined in various statutes and regulations, primarily under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) and the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA). These laws serve as powerful tools in protecting employees who exercise their rights or report unlawful conduct within their workplace.

The MHRA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose discrimination or participate in proceedings related to discrimination claims. This includes actions such as filing a complaint, providing testimony, or assisting others in asserting their rights under the MHRA. The law covers various forms of retaliation, including termination, demotion, harassment, or any adverse employment action taken in response to protected activities.

Similarly, the MWA shields employees from retaliation when they report suspected violations of law or public policy by their employers. Protected disclosures under the MWA include reporting suspected or planned unlawful conduct, safety violations, fraud, or other illegal activities. Employers are prohibited from taking retaliatory measures against employees who make such reports, ensuring that whistleblowers can come forward without fear of repercussions. Protections against retaliation are very broad.

It’s important to note that Minnesota’s employment retaliation laws extend protection to a wide range of workers, including full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, as well as independent contractors in certain circumstances. Additionally, individuals who assist or support employees in exercising their rights are also safeguarded against retaliation under these and similar laws.

Employment retaliation can have serious consequences, not only for the individuals directly affected but also for the overall workplace environment and morale. By upholding strong protections against retaliation, Minnesota aims to foster a culture where employees feel empowered to assert their rights and speak out against injustices without fear of reprisal.

Employers found in violation of Minnesota’s employment retaliation laws may face significant legal consequences, including monetary damages, reinstatement of employment, and injunctive relief. Moreover, repeated violations can tarnish a company’s reputation and erode trust between employers and employees.

If you have additional questions about employment retaliation in Minnesota, or feel that you may have experienced retaliation, contact us today.

EEOC Issues Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Regulations

Last December, President Biden signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) into law. The PWFA requires employers to accommodate employees who are affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions so that they can remain healthy while retaining their jobs.

This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a proposed rule to implement and interpret the PWFA. The rule provides important clarifications on what the PWFA means, and outlines examples of situations where it would apply.

For example, telling your supervisor that you’re having trouble getting to work at your scheduled start time because of morning sickness counts as notifying your employer of your need for a reasonable accommodation under the PWFA.

Other reasonable accommodations include time off for medical appointments related to pregnancy or childbirth, more frequent bathroom breaks, or light duty due to pregnancy related limits on heavy lifting.

If you are experiencing discrimination or retaliation on the basis of your pregnancy or other protected status, contact Kitzer Rochel. Our experienced employment law attorneys would be happy to discuss your case and understand your legal rights and options.

Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel both Present at National NELA Employment Law Conference

The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) held its Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois from June 28 through July 1, 2023. NELA is the largest organization of lawyers who represent workers in the United States and is focused exclusively on advancing employee rights and making the workplace better for all Americans.

The Annual Convention is the largest meeting of NELA members each year. The Annual Convention provides several days of intensive, high-quality continuing legal education (CLE) training for employment lawyers. Both Brian Rochel and Phillip Kitzer  were invited to speak at the Convention—an honor that very few members are given.

Brian presented on a panel entitled “Putting Theory Into Practice: Effectively Litigating Age Discrimination Claims.” The panel provided a detailed discussion and strategies for plaintiff’s advocates to use in representing employees in age discrimination claims.

Phillip presented on a panel entitled “25 Years After Faragher-Ellerth.” The panel provided in-depth updates on the state of employment law as it relates to the the use of the “Faragher-Ellerth” affirmative defense in sexual harassment claims.

Phillip and Brian regularly speak on employment law topics and present around the country. If you have questions about employment law please do not hesitate to contact us.

Mayor Jacob Frey Praises Kitzer Rochel at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On June 6, 2023, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey proclaimed it “Kitzer Rochel Day” in the City of Minneapolis. Mayor Frey praised the law firm’s commitment to fighting discrimination and retaliation in Minneapolis and throughout Minnesota. Mayor Frey made the announcement at Kitzer Rochel, PLLP’s ribbon cutting ceremony, celebrating the law firm’s new office in the Capella Tower in Downtown Minneapolis.

Kitzer Rochel, a boutique employee rights law firm, has been located in downtown Minneapolis since its founding in 2020. The law firm is committed to staying in downtown Minneapolis and helping the City continue its great work recovering in the wake of the pandemic.

For more information about Kitzer Rochel and questions about employment law, contact us today.

OSHA Retaliation Explained: Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions

As an employee, you have the right to work in a safe environment. If you believe that your workplace is unsafe, you have the right to report it without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, many employers do not take kindly to employees who report unsafe working conditions, and they may retaliate against them. This retaliation is not only illegal, but it can also be dangerous for the employee and their coworkers.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) is a federal law that sets standards for workplace safety and health. Under this law, employees have the right to report unsafe working conditions to their employer or to OSHA without fear of retaliation. Retaliation can come in many forms, such as demotion, termination, reduced hours, or other adverse actions.

OSHA has a Whistleblower Protection Program that protects employees who report unsafe working conditions from retaliation. This program protects employees who report violations of OSHA regulations, as well as those who participate in OSHA inspections or proceedings.

If you believe that you have been retaliated against for reporting unsafe working conditions, you may have the right to pursue a claim. Contact experienced employment attorneys today to learn more about your rights.

Brian Rochel to Present on Multiple CLEs at 2023 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute (ELI)

Brian Rochel will be presenting on two separate CLE panels at the 2023 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute (ELI), on May 18-19, 2023, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

First, Brian will be moderating a panel titled, “From Remote Work to Quiet Quitting and Work-Life Balance–Acting on Changing Perceptions and Realities Around Work and Workplaces.” The panel will explore a range of interconnected topics, focusing on the post-COVID workplace and employees’ changing perceptions and expectations.

Second, Brian will participate in a panel focusing on employment remedies and damages available in lawsuits. The panel is titled, “What’s the Harm: Evaluating and Proving Damages.”

The Upper Midwest ELI is one of the largest and most highly regarded employment law events in the country, featuring speakers from across the United States and drawing participants from various states in the midwest.

The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA): Explained

Employment discrimination is a serious issue that affects many people in the workforce, and Minnesota is no exception. The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) is a state law that protects employees from discrimination in the workplace based on several factors, including race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and religion.

Under the MHRA, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on any of the legally-protected protected characteristics. Discrimination can take many forms, such as denying someone a job, demoting them, or firing them because of their protected status. It can also include harassment, such as unwanted sexual advances or racist jokes in the workplace.

Retaliation against an employee who files a discrimination complaint is also illegal under the MHRA. Employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee who has made a complaint, such as firing or demoting them, because they have exercised their legal rights.

The MHRA generally applies to all employers with one or more employees, regardless of the size of the business. This means that even small businesses with only a few employees are required to follow the law and cannot discriminate against employees based on their protected status.

In addition to the MHRA, there are federal laws that protect employees from discrimination, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the MHRA offers broader protections than federal law in some areas, such as sexual orientation and marital status.

Employment discrimination is a serious issue that can have significant consequences for employees, including lost wages, emotional distress, and damage to their career prospects.

If you believe you have experienced discrimination at work, it is important to know your rights and take action to protect yourself. Contact experienced attorneys at Kitzer Rochel today.