Minnesota governor Mark Dayton has signed a bill into law that expands the state’s whistleblower protection laws to ensure that witnesses who report fraud and other wrongdoing will receive adequate safeguards and legal recourse.
Minnesota’s current Whistleblower Act, signed into law in 1987, applied only to state employees who reported misconduct. The expanded law now applies to all private-sector employees as well.
According to Business Management Daily, Minnesota’s old whistleblower law prohibited employers “from discharging, disciplining, threatening, or penalizing an employee in retaliation for making a good faith report of a violation or suspected violation of any federal or state law.”
Retaliation has always been a main deterrent preventing potential whistleblowers from reporting fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and other wrongdoing in the workplace.
The old whistleblower law also failed to adequately define the terms “good faith” and “penalize” as they were used in the statute, leaving interpretation subjective to the court. As Business Management Daily reports, the new Minnesota law now defines “good faith” as “any statements or disclosures” that are not knowingly false or made in reckless disregard of the truth.
The term “penalize” is defined in the new law as “conduct that might dissuade a reasonable employee from making or supporting a report, including post-termination conduct by an employer or conduct by an employer for the benefit of a third party.”
According to Business Management Daily, “the new law offers more plaintiff-friendly definition than the courts had previously established” and should serve as a reminder to all private employers to “thoroughly investigate any complaint an employee makes to ensure whistle-blowers do not suffer retaliation.”