When Minnesota employees take a job, they are doing so with the understanding that they will follow the instructions of their employer. This is true in any industry whether it is blue collar or white collar. For many jobs, that involves performing tasks they might find unpleasant such as disciplining other employees. That, however, is not illegal if it is done in a fair and reasonable way under the law.
In some cases, employers openly ask employees to violate the law or flout rules and regulations. If the employee fails to do so, they might be threatened with some form of retaliation. Workers facing this dilemma should know how the law protects them if they refuse to comply with an order to behave illegally.
How employees are protected from penalties for refusing to violate the law
State law says that if an employee is asked to take part in an action that they objectively believe is a federal or state violation of the law or a rule or regulation that was put in effect based on the law, they can do so. They must inform the employer of the reason for the refusal. Once that happens, the employer cannot initiate any adverse action.
That includes the employee being shielded from termination, discipline, threats, discrimination, being docked pay, losing benefits, being transferred, having their work conditions changed or negatively impacting their compensation. If this law is violated, the employee has remedies they can pursue.
They can file a civil suit and recover damages and other costs like legal fees. The court will determine their compensation. Included might be regained service time, past wages, compensatory damages and their work record being cleared of allegations of wrongdoing.
Employees in this situation should have professional guidance
Employees might not know what their rights are if their employer tells them to do something that violates the law, rules or regulations. They are frequently even more confused if they refuse and are penalized for it. Fortunately, there are options to refuse to follow the illegal order and to be protected from consequences for the refusal. In these situations, it is important to have advice with employment law and know what can be done about it.