On July 11, 2018, Halunen Law’s Blaine Balow was admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Halunen Law employment attorney and colleague Emma Denny made the motion for admission at the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis. The Honorable Ann D. Montgomery granted the motion and Blaine was then admitted into practice in federal court. As an employment attorney, Blaine represents clients in matters of discrimination, civil rights, sexual harassment, or are whistleblowers. Congratulations Blaine!
Strong legal advocacy can have a ripple effect in achieving systemic change. This article recounts the expanded impact of a letter Clayton Halunen wrote on behalf of a whistleblower client. Read the article.
Minneapolis, MN: For the 15th consecutive year, Halunen Law founder and managing partner, Clayton Halunen was selected to the Minnesota Super Lawyers list. Halunen Law partner, and chair of the False Claims Act/Whistleblower practice group, Susan Coler was selected for the 10th consecutive year, while employment attorney Barbara Felt was included for the 5th year in a row. Partner and Consumer Class Action attorney Christopher Moreland was newly selected to the Super Lawyers list. Returning to the Rising Stars list was Consumer Class Action chair and equity partner, Melissa Weiner, partner and employment attorney Ross Stadheim, employment attorney Emma Denny, and consumer class action attorney Charles Moore. The Super Lawyers list represents just 5% of Minnesota attorneys, and the Rising Stars list recognizes only 2.5% of attorneys 40 years old or younger or in practice for ten years or less.
“I am honored to be included in this important list once again, and pleased so many Halunen Law attorneys were recognized this year,” said Clayton Halunen. “It is extremely gratifying to see our work consistently acknowledged by our peers. I’m proud of our team’s tremendous track record, expertise, and dedication in pursuit of justice on behalf of the courageous whistleblowers, employees, and consumers they represent.”
HALUNEN LAW 2018 SUPER LAWYERS:
Clayton D. Halunen, Founding Partner
Susan M. Coler, Partner
Barbara J. Felt, Partner
Christopher J. Moreland, Partner
HALUNEN LAW 2018 RISING STARS:
Melissa Weiner, Partner
Emma R. Denny, Associate
Charles D. Moore, Associate
Ross D. Stadheim, Partner
ABOUT HALUNEN LAW: Halunen Law offers expertise in litigating employment cases on behalf of individual employees, consumer class actions and whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act and other statutes. With offices in Minneapolis and Chicago, Halunen Law has achieved a reputation as a fearless, tenacious and successful plaintiffs’ law firm, with a laser focus on achieving justice for its clients while creating meaningful social change.
Halunen Law partner and employment attorney Ross Stadheim has been tenacious in his fight to obtain justice for his client, Richard “Rick” Messina, in a case involving the existence of a two-year employment contract and numerous appeals to the 8th Circuit. His client will finally get to tell his story to a jury during the week of July 30 at the St. Paul federal courthouse. Read Minnesota Litigator’s perspective on this dogfight of a case, which began over four years ago.
Learn more about Halunen Law partner and employment attorney Ross Stadheim.
Event lineup included Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, triathlete Chris Mosier, and former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe
EAGAN, Minn.—(June 21, 2018) On Thursday, June 21, acclaimed LGBTQ athletes, professional sports team leaders and others convened for an unprecedented day-long summit focused on the critical importance of equity and inclusion in sports. LGBTQ thought-leaders, athletes, coaches, team executives and members of the media shared ideas and best practices through a series of panel discussions, interviews, and testimonials from LGBTQ athletes. The event, spearheaded by the Minnesota Vikings, was co-sponsored by Halunen Law, known for its leadership and representation of LGBTQ community members in employment and other legal concerns.
“Today was about education, empowerment, motivation, and inclusion in sports,” said Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren. “We work every day to create a respectful environment inside the Vikings organization, and we firmly believe it is our fiduciary responsibility to extend that environment to each and every human being by raising awareness and creating positive change. Together with some of the nation’s thought leaders, we were able to create an engaging and impactful discussion regarding the role coaches, players, administrators, and executives can play to promote equality.”
“It was a tremendous opportunity to advance awareness, bring greater understanding, and facilitate change in sports at every level for members of the LGBTQ community,” said Clayton Halunen, founder and managing partner of Minneapolis-based Halunen Law. “We were extremely pleased to work with Chris Kluwe and the Minnesota Vikings organization and serve as co-sponsors of this important event.”
The day’s events included a series of panel discussions with athletes, LGBTQ allies, coaches, members of the media, and representatives from professional sports organizations. Panels included:
Athletes and Allies: LGBTQ athletes and allies discussed their role in creating inclusive environments, and shared first-hand experiences working to build team cultures that welcomed all athletes. Panelists included Chris Kluwe, former professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings, Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director, Athlete Ally, and Amy Wilson, director of inclusion, NCAA.
The Role of Coaches: Coaches and players shared how to create an ecosystem of LGBTQ support within a team. The discussion included LGBTQ athletes and their coaches on navigating when a player comes out, addressing challenges, and building support among their teammates. Panelists included Stephanie White, head women’s basketball coach, Vanderbilt University, Xavier Colvin, football player, Butler University and Joe Cheshire, coach, Butler University.
LGBTQ Trailblazers: This candid discussion with high-profile athletes offered inspiring stories, challenges, and observations of being the/one of the first out athletes in their sport and how coming out led to further inclusion. Panelists included Chris Mosier, Olympian and first known out transgender athlete to join a U.S. national team, Greg Louganis, Olympic diver and LGBTQ activist and Joanna Lohman, professional soccer player for the Washington Spirit.
The Power of Visibility: Institutions and Individuals: In this panel, the moderator and panelists focused on the power leaders have in transforming institutions to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ athletes. Panelists included Samantha Rapoport, director, football development, NFL, and Nevin Caple, co-founder of LGBT SportSafe, leading strategic diversity consultant on LGBTQ inclusion in sports.
“I am very happy with how the panels went and the Vikings’ commitment to make the Summit a useful resource for those in attendance and for others who can use it as a resource later,” said former Minnesota Vikings football player Chris Kluwe. “I think this Summit sets a model for other teams to follow. Ideally this will be the first of many similar gatherings and will work toward advancing the cause of LGBTQ inclusion in sports.”
The day was capped off with a fundraiser and silent auction benefitting several LGBTQ advocacy organizations. The Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Cubs, U.S. Tennis, the Minnesota Vikings, and many others donated items. Monies raised go to local and national LGBTQ organizations including GLSEN, You Can Play, LGBTQ SportSafe, Twin Cities Quorum, and Athlete Ally; each offering a unique program and approach to advance LGBTQ inclusion and equality.
ABOUT THE BENEFICIARY ORGANIZATIONS:
GLSEN – Founded in 1990, GLSEN ensures that LGBTQ students can learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment while helping to transform K-12 schools into safe and affirming environments across the country. www.glsen.org
You Can Play – Launched in 2012, You Can Play works to ensure equality, respect, and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. You Can Play seeks to guarantee that athletes receive a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport of their team’s success. You Can Play is an official partner of the National Hockey League. www.youcanplayproject.org
Athlete Ally – Athlete Ally believes everyone should have equal access, opportunity and experience in sports — regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Their mission is to end the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sport and to activate the athletic community to exercise its leadership to champion LGBTQ equality. www.athleteally.org
LGBTQ SportSafe – LGBTQ SportSafe Inclusion Program was developed to create an infrastructure for athletic administrators, coaches, and recreational sports leaders to support LGBTQ inclusion in college, high school and professional sports. Their 3-Peat Model addresses the importance of Programming, Policy, and Public Awareness at levels of sport, while offering incentives to institutions, teams, and leagues that reach inclusion goals. https://lgbtsportsafe.com
Twin Cities Quorum – Minnesota’s LGBT and Allied Chamber of Commerce, Twin Cities Quorum builds, connects and strengthens the area’s business community. The organization works to assist and develop certified LGBTQ owned enterprises and supports their entrance into the supply chain of forward-thinking equality-minded companies as well as creating visibility and business activity for all of their member businesses and organizations. www.twincitiesquorum.com.
Nearly 200 people gathered at the Nicollet Island Pavilion on Thursday, June 14 for the Twin Cities Business Journal’s first-ever Business of Pride awards event. The evening, and accompanying special publication, honored 24 individuals for their business success and advocacy for LGBTQ issues. Halunen Law is proud that Clayton Halunen was recognized as a Business of Pride honoree. The esteemed group was comprised of entrepreneurs, corporate executives, nonprofit leaders, and many more. All were heralded for their professional success and making a difference in advancing equality in the business world and community at large.
“I am humbled and honored to be in the company of so many accomplished individuals and to have our shared commitment be recognized in such a significant way,” said Clayton Halunen, founder and managing partner of Halunen Law. “I am passionate about the work I do on behalf of the LGBTQ community. And although we’ve made progress, there is still much to do. I will continue to pursue justice for our community through my legal practice and my life-long personal advocacy.”
Clayton Halunen is the founder of Halunen Law, which represents employees, consumers, and whistleblowers in individual and class actions. Halunen Law has achieved a reputation as a fearless, tenacious and successful plaintiffs’ law firm, with a laser focus on achieving justice for its clients as well as meaningful social change. Clayton’s representation of Vikings punter, Chris Kluwe, during the team’s investigation of Kluwe’s allegations of homophobic comments by a Vikings coach, was instrumental in achieving a historic settlement advancing GLBT rights in professional sports.
Halunen Law provided expertise and insight at the Minnesota House Subcommittee on Workplace Safety and Respect and we are closely tracking the proposed amendment to change current sexual harassment policies. We wholeheartedly agree with the Star Tribune editorial board and believe it is time for Minnesota lawmakers to step up and do away with the unfair “severe or pervasive” standard for sexual harassment cases. Time’s up!
Read the recent StarTribune editorial.
Halunen Law is pleased to announce Clayton D. Halunen has been selected as a 2018 Business of Pride honoree by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. In its first year, this award recognizes outstanding LGBTQ business leaders, allies or advocates in the Twin Cities metro area who are making a difference in advancing equality in the business work and community, as well as demonstrating their success.
In the past 20 years, Halunen Law, founded and managed by Clayton Halunen has grown from 1 to 15 attorneys and is known as a powerhouse plaintiff’s firm. Under Halunen’s leadership, the firm has made a significant difference in advancing equality and access to justice. A fearless and successful litigator and negotiator, Halunen has focused his legal work on representing those who have experienced discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. The firm’s clients include many members of the LGBTQ community and those who support them. He has obtained millions of dollars for his clients including a million-dollar recovery for the first woman police lieutenant in Rochester, who challenged the racist treatment of another employee. His representation of Vikings punter, Chris Kluwe, during the team’s investigation of Kluwe’s allegations of homophobic comments by a Vikings coach, was instrumental in achieving a historic settlement advancing LGBTQ rights in professional sports.
As an openly gay business owner and attorney, Halunen has modeled the success that can be achieved by living an authentic life and pursuing meaningful goals with passion and purpose. A tireless advocate for LGBTQ issues, his civic engagement is unmatched. Halunen has been a Federal Club Member of the Human Rights Campaign since 2008, actively participated in the Project 515 Campaign from 2007-2014, which served as the cornerstone to the successful Marriage Equality Campaign, served on the Federal Bar Association Diversity Committee, is a frequent keynote speaker on legal issues, and much more.
“This is an incredible honor,“ said Clayton Halunen, Halunen Law Founder, and Managing Partner. “I’m truly grateful to be recognized alongside such an amazing group of fellow honorees. A big thanks to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for bringing our advocacy and commitment to the LGBTQ community to the forefront with this inaugural Business of Pride Award.”
The Business of Pride Event will be held Thursday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Nicollet Island Pavilion.
Learn more about Clayton Halunen.
An employee writes a memo on the natural abilities of women; the memo makes the front page of the New York Times. A supervisor carries the White Man’s Bible to a rally; he is broadcast on CNN. What are an employer’s legal considerations when an employee’s speech becomes a lightning rod for controversy?
Halunen Law employment attorney Emma Denny joined a distinguished panel on Apirl 19 to address situations pulled directly from recent headlines. The presentation, “Insightful or Inciteful – When Employee Speech and the Employer’s Reaction to It Become the News,” featured a group of experts evaluating real-life cases and implications under the National Labor Relations Act Title VII, state laws protecting political speech, and employer codes of conduct.
Joining Denny on the panel were Sandro M. Garofalo, Director and Labor Relations Counsel for Target Corporation, Joseph G. Schmitt, Shareholder at Nilan Johnson Lewis PA, and Tyler Wiese, Attorney at NLRB, Region 18.
“This is such an important, timely topic,” said Denny. “In these complex, highly-charged times, the rules of what is and isn’t protected workplace behavior can be unclear. I was honored to be a part of this esteemed group and hope by sharing our insights and expertise we provided useful direction for the employment attorneys and others who attended the presentation.”
Emma Denny is relentless in her pursuit of justice for clients who have been wronged by their employer. Recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star and as one of the Top Women Attorneys in Minnesota, has successfully litigated cases in state and federal court and negotiated favorable resolutions for clients facing discrimination, whistleblower, harassment, FMLA, ERISA, disability and religious accommodation, wage, retaliation, contract agreements and a host of other disputes.
Learn more about attorney Emma Denny.
Susan Coler, Halunen Law Partner and Chair of the False Claims Act Practice Group, recently spoke on a panel – “False Claims Act 101: What’s a Whistleblower to do? – as part of the Eighth Circuit Conference of the National Employment Lawyers Association.
In recent years, False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuits have dramatically increased in courts across the country. The FCA allows whistleblowers to share the government’s recovery of damages from entities who knowingly present a false or fraudulent claim for payment to the government, but there are many traps and unique procedures to be aware of in the pursuit of an FCA case.
Presenting an overview of the FCA that was useful to employment lawyers, the panel focused on the basics, on the potential hidden pitfalls, and most important, on how to advise employee whistleblowers about their options if they have uncovered fraud against the Government. The panel addressed who qualifies as a proper qui tam plaintiff, how qui tam cases are presented to the government, how cases are filed by private counsel and how are they are handled by the Department of Justice, what types of “false claims” give rise to FCA liability, and what damages are recoverable under the FCA.
The other panelists were David Fuller from the Minnesota office of the Department of Justice, Robert Collins, an attorney from Olathe, KS, and the moderator was Sarah Brown, an attorney from Kansas City, MO.
Said Coler, “False Claims Act cases are both challenging and satisfying. It was a pleasure to be on a panel with such knowledgeable practitioners.”
The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) advances employee rights and serves lawyers who advocate for equality and justice in the American workplace. Learn more about NELA and its work around the country.
A Partner at Halunen Law, Susan is Chair of the FCA/Whistleblower practice. She represents whistleblowers across the United States in many different industries who challenge illegal corporate conduct, including fraud against the government. As a Labor and Employment Law Specialist, Susan has also brought successful retaliation claims in connection with False Claims Act (FCA) /qui tam cases and as stand-alone actions.
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