Tag Archive for: whistleblower

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.

The Supreme Court Weighs in on COVID-19 Vaccines: What It Means for Employees

What is the vaccine mandate?  

  • In September 2021, President Biden issued an executive order requiring federal employees and contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (the Coronavirus).  
  • In November 2021, President Biden issued two additional executive orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine mandates that are were reviewed by the Supreme Court.  
    • The first requires employers with 100+ employees to mandate vaccines (or weekly testing for those who do not want to be vaccinated).  
    • The second requires that healthcare facilities which receive federal funding implement a similar vaccine policy.  
  • In January 2022, the Supreme Court struck down the first of the November 2021 rules. It held that it is unconstitutional to require employers to mandate vaccines and weekly testing.  

So, what does all of this mean for me? 

  • If you are a federal employee, you must be fully vaccinated. 
  • If you are employed by a healthcare facility that receives funds through Medicare or Medicaid, you must be fully vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19. 

Can my employer mandate vaccines, testing, and masks if it chooses?  

  • Yes. The Supreme Court did not ban employers from choosing to require that employees be vaccinated or undergo testing. It only prevented the government from mandating that employers implement this policy.  
  • However, if your employer is a healthcare facility that receives federal funding (through Medicaid or Medicare), then it is still required to mandate vaccines and weekly testing.  

My employer is a healthcare facility that receives federal funding and I think it is violating the vaccine mandate. Can I be punished for filing a complaint? 

  • No. Many statutes prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report legal violations or participate in investigations of alleged violations.  
  • Employees can and should report violations of workplace safety laws, including federal and state OSHA regulations related to COVID-19.  


Am I Protected If I Blow the Whistle at Work?

The Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA) protects employees who “blow the whistle,” in their workplaces. This means employees who refuse to engage in illegal activity at work or who report illegal activity. To prove a whistleblower claim in Minnesota, the employee must show (1) that they engaged in statutorily protected conduct; (2) that they suffered an adverse employment action; and (3) a causal connection between the two.[1]

What activity is protected by the MWA?

Employees who report a violation, suspected violation, or planned violation of a state or federal law or rule to an employer or government official are protected under the MWA.[2] Employees who are requested by a public body or office to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry are also protected.[3] The MWA also protects employees who refuse an order from their employer that they believe in good faith to be unlawful if they inform their employer that that is why they are refusing the order.[4] The MWA also provides protections for employees who report substandard quality of health care services in a health care facility, provider, or organization.[5] Public employees are protected if they communicate the findings of studies or reports that they believe to be truthful and accurate.[6] Similarly, state government employees who communicate information relating to state services that they believe to be truthful and accurate to legislators or legislative auditors or constitutional officers are protected by the MWA.[7]

In 2013 the Minnesota legislature amended the MWA to include additional, robust protections for employees who report unlawful activities.[8] Specifically, the legislature amended the definition of “good faith” report to mean any report of suspected violations of the law as long as the reports were neither knowingly false nor in reckless disregard of the truth.[9] Importantly, the 2013 MWA amendments also added protection for employees reporting common law violations from retaliatory discharge.

What is an adverse employment action?

A basic example of adverse employment action is termination of employment. However, the MWA prohibits any form of “penalizing” an employee, which includes anything that would dissuade a worker from reporting illegal conduct. This includes harassment, reducing pay, reducing hours, or other forms of penalizing a worker.

Constructive discharge is also an adverse employment action. This occurs “when an employer deliberately renders the employee’s working conditions intolerable, thereby forcing her to quit.”[10] Whether the working conditions are intolerable is determined using an objective standard, considering whether a reasonable person in the same situation would find the conditions intolerable.[11] Further, if an employee resigns because they think there is no possibility of fair treatment by their employer, this can constitute constructive discharge.[12] This might occur if an employee reports illegal conduct or refuses to break the law, and their employer then makes working conditions intolerable for that employee. Subjecting an employee to a hostile environment can also be considered an adverse employment action.[13]

How do I show a causal connection?

This simply means evidence that an employee was treated badly, or penalized, because the worker reported violations of law (or refused to participate in them). This evidence takes many forms. Statements from a manager, or treating workers differently are examples of proving retaliation. Courts have also found that close proximity between protected conduct and adverse employment action is compelling evidence of a causal connection.[14] That means that if the adverse employment action occurred shortly after the protected conduct, there is likely a causal connection between the two. For example, if an employee reports a suspected violation of the law to their employer and they are fired the next day, it is likely that the two events are related, or causally connected.

What should I do if I my employer terminated my employment or retaliated against me for reporting violations or refusing to engage in illegal activity?

Contact us at Kitzer Rochel. Our experienced employment law attorneys would be happy to discuss your case and help you understand your legal rights and options.


[1] Dietrich v. Canadian Pac. Ltd., 536 N.W.2d 319, 327 (Minn. 1995).

[2] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(1).

[3] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(2).

[4] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(3).

[5] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(4).

[6] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(5).

[7] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(6).

[8] Minn. Stat.  § 181.931

[9] Minn. Stat. § 181.931, subd. 4.

[10] Tatum v. Ark. Dep’t. of Health, 411 F.3d 955, 960 (8th Cir. 2005).

[11] Gartman v. Gencorp, Inc., 120 F.3d 127, 130 (8th Cir. 1997).

[12] Dixon v. Mount Olivet Careview Home, Civ. 09-1099, 2010 WL 3733936 *8 (D. Minn. Sept. 17, 2010)

[13] Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 805 (1998); Burlington Indus. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 765 (1998); Frieler v. Carlson Mktg. Grp., 751 N.W.2d 558, 570 (Minn. 2008).

[14] See, e.g., Dietrich, 536 N.W.2d at 327 (citing Hubbard v. U.P.I., Inc., 330 N.W.2d 428, 444 (Minn. 1983) (holding that causal connection requirement may be satisfied by the temporal proximity between protected conduct and adverse employment action)).

Can My Employer Fire Me for Reporting Violations of Law?

The Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA) protects employees who report illegal activity, or “blow the whistle,” at work. The MWA prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, threatening, discriminating against, or penalizing an employee in relation to compensation or the terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because an employee reported illegal activity.[1]

You are protected under the MWA if you make a good faith report of a violation, suspected violation, or planned violation of any state or federal law, common law, or rule.[2] These categories are very broad and protect a wide range of conduct. You are protected whether you make this report to your employer or any governmental body or law enforcement official.[3] In addition and separately, you have the same protections if a public body or office requests that you participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry.[4]

Whistleblower protections include, for example, reporting violations relating to COVID-19, state or federal workplace safety rules, criminal violations, securities laws, and virtually any other type of legal rule, law or regulation.

If you have questions about whistleblower rights contact us. Or if believe that your employer has terminated your employment or treated you unfairly after you reported illegal activity, contact us. Our experienced Minnesota employment law attorneys would be happy to discuss your case and help you understand your legal rights and options.


[1] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(3).

[2] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(1).

[3] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(1).

[4] Minn. Stat. § 181.932, subd. 1(2).

Kitzer Rochel Is a Voice for Whistleblowers Reporting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Other COVID-19 Funding Fraud

Our firm knows that some recipients of PPP funding, or other CARES Act funding, have not complied with the law. These companies are abusing taxpayer dollars and harming small businesses that really need the limited funding. And they are breaking the law. 

Federal laws prohibit retaliation against workers, employees, executives or anyone else who blows the whistle on employers who defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) run by the Small Business Administration (SBA). And some statutes offer monetary rewards for turning in wrongdoers.

For example, under the False Claims Act (FCA), the government may reward a PPP whistleblower with up to 30 percent of the recovered funds.

  • Are you concerned about possible fraud regarding the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?
  • Are you an executive or employee of a company that misrepresented payroll numbers in order to get a PPP loan?
  • Do you have information that your employer has misused an SBA loan or PPP funds? This could include spending more than 40 percent of a PPP loan on non-payroll expenses, or other examples.
  • Do you have information or concerns about other, similar practices?
  • Have you been warned to stay quiet about such fraudulent practices?

If you’ve witnessed PPP fraud and want to speak up, there are laws that may protect and even reward you. Contact Kitzer Rochel today to learn more.

Can A Whistleblower Keep Work Documents If She Is Terminated?

Employees who report illegal conduct by a company may be whistleblowers. A whistleblower may be entitled to substantial monetary awards for reporting fraud and is generally protected from retaliation. If whistleblowers do experience retaliation, they may have additional legal claims.

Frequently, when an employee discovers fraud at work or by their employer, they may seek to copy or retain documents to prove the fraud or seek legal advice. There are many documents that may be relevant, even necessary, to prove a whistleblower claim. Emails, invoices, statements, letters, or many other types of documents could show that a company acted unlawfully and may be able to prove a whistleblower claim.

However, the law is complicated regarding what information a current or former employee may be allowed to retain or copy. First, most employees have some type of agreement prohibiting them from keeping company information (which is typically defined very broadly and could include nearly any company document). Employees should always review any agreement they signed to understand their obligations. If an employee keeps documents they are not allowed to have, they could potentially be sued by their employer.

Second, state and federal law may prohibit employees from making copies or retaining certain categories of documents. Examples include trade secrets or communications protected by the attorney-client privilege. There are many more examples and the law in this area is complex.

While there are many agreements and laws that limit what documents or information employees are allowed to retain, whistleblowers have special protections. One example includes the “whistleblower immunity” contained in the U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”). The DTSA contains an express carve-out for whistleblowers who disclose trade secrets to attorneys for the purpose of seeking advice about potential whistleblower claims. Under the right circumstances, an employee cannot be liable under the act for doing so.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Charles Grassley, explained: “Too often, individuals who come forward to report wrongdoing in the workplace are punished for simply telling the truth. The amendment I championed with Senator Leahy ensures that these whistleblowers won’t be slapped with allegations of trade secret theft when responsibly exposing misconduct. It’s another way we can prevent retaliation and even encourage people to speak out when they witness violations of the law.”

At the same time, employees must be very careful about what information they retain, the manner in which it is retained, and to whom they disclose any such information. We strongly encourage employees and whistleblowers to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney before taking any action or retaining any documents that could be protected, trade secret, confidential or the like. If you have questions or would like to learn more, contact us today.

Minnesota Supreme Court Affirms Broad Protection for Whistleblowers

Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of employees, holding that the Minnesota legislature intended to overrule caselaw that limited Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act (MWA) when it amended the law in 2013. The case, Freidlander v. Edwards Life Sciences, centered around the definition of “good faith.” The MWA protects employees from retaliation if they report illegal conduct in “good faith.” Prior to 2013, the statute provided no definition for the term “good faith.” Beginning in 2002, the Minnesota Supreme Court limited that definition in several cases. The effect of the court’s narrow definition was to limit protections for employees, leaving no legal recourse for many employees were fired for reporting unlawful conduct. These decisions undermined the purpose of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act by making it it much more difficult for employees to report unlawful activity without losing their jobs. Consequently, in 2013, the Minnesota Legislature took action, defining “good faith” as any report that is not knowingly false or in reckless disregard of the truth. By doing so, the Legislature restored the broad protections of the MWA.

Several companies, including Edwards Life Sciences, and the Chamber of Commerce, disagreed with the Legislature’s intent and argued that the judicially-created, narrow definition of “good faith” still applied, even though the legislature changed the law. In a case that affects virtually every employee in Minnesota, the Supreme Court rejected this argument, and held that the legislature intended to change the definition, stating that the employer’s reading would “render the ‘good faith’ definition section of the 2013 amendment superfluous, and run afoul of our presumption that the Legislature intends to change the law when it amends a statute.”

The decision was unanimous, with Chief Justice Gildea authoring the opinion. The decision solidifies the Legislature’s effort to ensure that employees are protected from being fired or retaliated against if they report violations of law, or suspected violations of law, to their employer or to third parties. Employees must make such reports in “good faith,” which means that they are not protected if they lie or make reports in reckless disregard of the truth.

The case was successfully argued by Adam Hansen of Apollo Law, and the plaintiff is represented by Halunen Law and Nichols Kaster. Phillip Kitzer, Douglas Micko and Brian Rochel of Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel also participated on behalf of Minnesota NELA, who appeared as amicus curiae arguing in favor of the broader interpretation.

If you would like to learn more, or if you believe you have experienced retaliation at work, contact Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel today.

Minnesota Supreme Court Clarifies that Whistleblowers Have 6 Years to File Claim

What is the statute of limitations for a whistleblower claim in Minnesota?  That was the question posed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in  Ford v. Minneapolis Public Schools.  In a unanimous decision, the Court has ruled that whistleblowers have six years to bring a lawsuit against an employer under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (“MWA”).  

In Ford, the employee reported unethical and illegal activity in her department and, shortly thereafter, on April 22, 2008, was notified that her position would be eliminated at the end of the school year.  Her last day of work was June 30, 2008, and she began her lawsuit on June 29, 2010.  The Minneapolis Public Schools sought to dismiss her case by arguing that a two year statute of limitations applies to the MWA and the clock began to tick the moment she learned of her termination.  The Supreme Court agreed that the statute of limitations began to run in April, the moment she learned of her termination, but that a six-year statute of limitations applies to the MWA.  The decision can be found here.

Every law that protects employees has its own statute of limitation, which can range from ten days to six years. Employees must take action within the appropriate statute of limitations or they likely will forfeit any opportunity to do so in the future.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly at work, do not risk a statute of limitations deadline and contact the attorneys at Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochele Micko for a consultation right away.