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What is the time period for filing a whistleblower action?

Many personal injury lawsuits in Minnesota are governed by a two-year statute of limitation restricting the time the suit may be filed. However, a state appellate court recently ruled that Minnesota's whistleblower statute allows a longer six-year time period to file a suit.

Minnesota's whistleblower law prohibits an employer from discharging an employee who submits a good faith report on a violation or suspected violation of any federal or state law or rule to an employer, any governmental body or a law enforcement official. Employers cannot terminate or penalize an employee who refuses to violate the law.

This law was enacted in 1987 before the state Supreme Court could rule on a lower court ruling prohibiting an employer to fire an at-will employee who refused to violate a law. The lower court ruled that, in the absence of a whistleblower law, the common law allowed an employee to file a wrongful discharge action where an employer fires an employee for reasons that contradict a clear public policy mandate.

Because the Minnesota legislature enacted its whistleblower statue before the state Supreme Court recognized a similar common law protection, claims under this law are governed by a six-year statute of limitations according to a state appeals court decision issued in December 2014. In the case, the court allowed a former public school employee to file a whistleblower lawsuit against the school district after two years elapsed from the date of the action precipitating the lawsuit.

In that case, the employee reported financial improprieties and budget discrepancies to the school district superintendent and a staff person and was told by her supervisor eight to 10 months later that her job was going to be eliminated in the next school year. Her last day of work was June 30, 2008. She filed her lawsuit on June 29, 2010. The statute of limitations began running on April 22, 2008 when her supervisor told her that her job was being eliminated.

Legal assistance can help employers avoid whistleblower actions and other employment disputes. When these suits lawsuits or other cases involving business disputes are filed, legal advice on time limitations and other litigation matters can aid businesses.

Source: courthousenews.com, "Ford v. Minneapolis Public Schools, Dec15-2014," Accessed on Jan. 26, 2015

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