Whistleblower Law in Minnesota May Be Extended

A proposed Minnesota whistleblower law may provide state workers more job protection when they express concerns to legislators and other state officials. 

The bill, passed by the state senate last month in a 46-10 vote, extends the whistleblower protection laws in Minnesota to give most state workers the ability to share concerns about how their departments are operating to legislators, state officials, the attorney general, the governor and the Legislative Auditor’s Office. A similar bill has been introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives by Rep. Diane Loeffler.

Currently, Minnesota has whistleblower laws that protect private sector employees, but do not fully protect state workers. In some cases, lawmakers say, state offices have put in place policies that specifically forbid state employees from sharing information with legislators.

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Critics of the bill say that it crosses a line by having the legislature set policy for employees of the executive branch. Senator David Hann said that the bill could lead state employees to believe that they do not have to obey their superiors and do not have to follow agency policy.

In 2009, the state legislator passed the Minnesota False Claims Act, which mirrors federal whistleblower laws by including a qui tam provision that entitles individuals who report a false claim against the government to a portion of any money that the government recovers from the offenders. In return, the whistleblower must be the first to bring the case to the government’s attention. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2010.


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