Clayton D. Halunen
866-523-8533 (Toll Free)
Clayton Halunen is the founder of Halunen Law, representing employees, consumers, and whistleblowers in individual, and qui tam, and class actions. Under his leadership, Halunen Law has achieved a national reputation as a fearless, tenacious and successful plaintiffs’ law firm, bringing a laser focus on delivering justice for its clients and creating meaningful social change.
Halunen’s passion for his work took root early while growing up in northern Minnesota, and each of his parents experienced the repercussions of discrimination. Those experiences fueled his determination both to assure that all people are treated with decency and respect for their human rights, and to hold businesses accountable for illegal conduct.
After more than 20 years of practice, Halunen has successfully tried to verdict employee discrimination, harassment and whistleblower cases. He has litigated and won countless high-profile cases that have significantly altered corporate practices and garnered millions of dollars in awards and settlements for his clients.
In the fall of 2013, Halunen represented Heidi Weber, former dean of the Globe University Minnesota Medical Assistant Program. Webber alleged that the for-profit university had dismissed her for exposing unlawful and unethical practices at the school, including consumer fraud. Halunen obtained a judgment for Weber in excess of $1 million. His efforts were followed up by the Minnesota Attorney General’s office, which subsequently brought a consumer fraud lawsuit against the school. The case was featured on the CBS television series Whistleblower in the fall of 2018.
In 2017, Halunen represented Lt. Elisa Umpierre in a $1 million settlement against the Rochester Minnesota Police Department. The suit alleged discrimination and retaliation against Lt. Umpierre after she expressed on Facebook her support of the Standing Rock protesters and criticized excessive force by police at the protests.
Also in 2017, Halunen played a pivotal role with a team of attorneys who successfully represented James Friedlander in a whistleblower case heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The case clarified Minnesota legislative policy that a “good faith” report essentially must be truthful, creating a clearer path for whistleblowers to make their claims, while holding employers accountable for illegal conduct and preventing them from relying on technicalities to escape liability.
Halunen’s representation of Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, during the team’s investigation of Kluwe’s allegations of homophobic comments by a Vikings coach in 2014, was instrumental in achieving a historic settlement advancing LGBT rights in professional sports. As a result of the case, the Vikings organization agreed to make substantial contributions to several local and national LGBT-related organizations and host the first-ever professional sports LGBT summit. The event brought together gay athletes and advocates with sports management representatives and others for day-long event and panel discussions on creating greater inclusivity in sports at all levels.
Halunen was also counsel for a whistleblower in one of the largest qui tam settlements against a drug company—$1.5 billion. The case against Abbot Labs involved several whistleblowers who spoke out against the promotion of the prescription drug Depakote for uses that had not been approved by the FDA. The company was accused of marketing the drug “off-label,” including for nursing home-patients, persons with schizophrenia, as well as for children, and providing kickbacks to medical providers who prescribed the medication.
Halunen has gained national recognition for his class action work, including leadership positions in a number of prominent nationwide cases. He has litigated class actions in such areas as employee misclassification, defective products, product mislabeling, and consumer fraud.
Widely respected for his success, Halunen is the recipient of numerous prestigious honors and awards acknowledging his professional acumen and advocacy. In 2018, as a recipient of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Business of Pride Award, Halunen was recognized for his leadership within the LGBT and business communities. He was named one of the Attorneys of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer in 2014 and 2017 and has been selected to the Minnesota Super Lawyers list for 15 consecutive years. Halunen is featured in several news publications and articles including “A Whistleblower’s Best Friend” in the 2015 August issue of Super Lawyers Magazine.
Says Halunen, “I am so fortunate to do this work every day with courageous clients and a team of the most capable and dedicated motivated attorneys and staff. Our client’s courage coupled with our attorneys’ expertise, has resulted in exceptional outcomes.”
Areas of Practice
- False Claims Act (“qui tam”) Litigation
- Employment Litigation
- Whistleblower Litigation
- Retaliation in Employment
- Executive and High Level Severance Workouts
- Consumer Fraud
- Products Liability
- Class Action/Mass Torts
- International Whistleblower Representation
- Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota
- Juris Doctor
- North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota
- B.S. – Psychology
Honors and Awards
- 2018: Halunen and his client Heidi Weber were featured in CBS television series Whistleblower. “The Case Against Globe University” episode had more than 2 million viewers and brought national attention to this important case.
- 2018: Halunen received a Business of Pride Award from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for his professional accomplishments and advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community.
- 2017: Minnesota Lawyer selected Halunen as one of the Attorneys of the Year for his work on the whistleblower case heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court which ultimately changed Minnesota legislative policy.
- 2016: Halunen was named Minnesota Attorney of the Month by Attorney at Law Magazine in October. He was featured on the cover of the magazine and interviewed for a four-page editorial about his career in law.
- 2013-2015: Halunen was recognized as “Lead Counsel Rated” by the Lead Counsel Review Board.
- 2014: Halunen was named one of Minnesota Lawyers’ “Attorneys of the Year” for his advocacy of LGBT rights in the NFL.
- 2014: Halunen received the distinction of being named to the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” from The National Trial Lawyers.
- Halunen has also been selected to the Minnesota Super Lawyer list by Super Lawyer Magazine consecutively since 2003.
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association- Board Member
- National Employment Lawyers Association, Member
- Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association