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‘Unethical’ isn’t enough under Minnesota whistle-blower law

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Employers can’t fire employees in retaliation for “blowing the whistle” on illegal activities. But Minnesota’s Whistleblower Statute doesn’t apply to workers who complain about practices they simply think are unethical.

Recent case:
Naomi Chial worked as a retail sales manager, selling mobile phones and service contracts in Sprint’s Twin Cities market. Sometimes, Sprint customers want to add a line to an existing account. When another sales manager suggested that salespeople could earn greater commissions by claiming such add-ons as new accounts, Chial objected. She reported the practice to higher-level managers. Then Sprint fired her.

Chial sued, alleging she had been fired for whistle-blowing.

But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled she had no case because, when she complained, she didn’t believe the practice was actually illegal. She simply thought it was unethical. (Chial v. Sprint, No. 08-2012, 8th Cir., 2009)

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