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Iron Range school learns whistle-blower lesson

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in Human Resources

When Elizabeth Johnson complained about unsafe working conditions at the Northland Learning Center, a cooperative of alternative schools for children with disabilities in Minnesota’s Iron Range, her boss took no action. Frustrated, Johnson wrote an anonymous letter to the local newspaper outlining the problems. That got the school’s attention.

Her office computer was searched and disabled. She received two letters that could have been construed as death threats.

She filed a lawsuit claiming protection under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act and alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. She sought $100,000 in damages.

Now a jury has awarded Johnson $82,800—and the court tacked on another $99,466 in attorneys’ fees, disbursements and prejudgment interest.

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