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.
Immigration has long been a contentious subject, and we now see media reports nearly every day telling us that the United States has an immigration “problem.” Indeed we do, but it is one that most people never hear about; specifically the physical and sexual harassment, abuse, assaults and rapes perpetrated against the women, men, and even children who are confined to immigration detention centers located across the county.
Data collected by a non-profit advocacy group, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement or CIVIC), and provided to officials at Immigrations and Customs (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), confirms that the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) received at least 1,016 reports of sexual abuse filed by detainees between May 2014 and July 2016- equating to about one complaint of sexual abuse per day.1 In April 2017, CIVIC filed a civil rights complaint with the federal government noting that the abuse and assaults reportedly occur at all points of interaction with detained immigrants, including: during routine searches, medical examinations, and transport to and from the facility and/or hearings.
Of the 1,016 complaints, the OIG investigated only 24 (or 2.4% of the total).2
Even after the CIVIC complaint was filed in April 2017, the federal government has done nothing to stop these abuses. The reason for the inaction is not entirely clear, but is likely due in large part to the fact that immigrant detention is a business that is being underwritten in large part by the government, which has contracted with private prison companies to provide detention services, and which has passed laws to guarantee maintenance of a minimum number of beds as well as refused to pass legislation mandating the inclusion of private prisons in the federal tax disclosure system.3 As a result, private prison corporations have become enormously profitable. Indeed, Forbes reported that in 2015 GEO Group, Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America, the two largest private prison corporations in the country, realized revenues of $1.84 billion and $1.79 billion respectively.4
Shockingly, not only has the federal government taken no action to remedy these human rights violations, but the Trump administration’s actions to imprison immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. has increased the number of detainees, leading to conditions conducive to further victimization of immigrant detainees. THIS IS THE “PROBLEM” THAT MUST STOP.
Halunen Law is a national law firm committed to protecting the rights of immigrant detainees who have been subjected physical or sexual harassment, abuse or assault, or who have been denied necessary medical care while being held in a federal or private detention centers. Our lawyers will fight for your rights and seek accountability from those who are responsible for this horrific conduct. If you have suffered from, or know someone who has suffered from, sexual assault or rape or denied necessary medical care, call us for a free consultation or fill out our INTAKE FORM and submit it for a free evaluation.
ACT TODAY—the law limits the time available to bring claims against bad actors.
1 CIVIC Press Release, Sexual Assault in Immigration Detention (April 11, 2017). (http://www.endisolation.org/sexual-assault-in-immigration-detention/)
3 Costly, Inefficient and Unaccountable: The Case for Outlawing For-Profit Prisons, Forbes (Sept. 19, 2016). https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2016/09/19/the-case-for-outlawing-for-profit-prisons/#3c789d061dad
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.
Beginning in 2005, Allegiance entered into agreements with hospitals located in Southeastern United States to provide Intensive Outpatient Psychotherapy services to patients who were Medicare beneficiaries on the hospitals’ behalf. The settlement resolves allegations that many patients were provided services that did not qualify for Medicare reimbursement but were billed as such.
“The Department of Justice recognizes the value of accessible mental health care, but will not tolerate companies that seek to exploit our most vulnerable populations by delivering inappropriate or worthless services,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad D. Readler for the Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable those who waste taxpayer dollars and place profit about the legitimate needs of patients.”
Read the full article from the United States Department of Justice.
Halunen Law is a national leader in challenging fraud against the government. Our attorneys have recovered millions of taxpayer dollars, brought financial rewards to courageous whistleblowers, and ended corrupt business practices. If you’re aware of unlawful workplace activity, contact us to discuss your concerns.
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.
With nearly half of millennials doing freelance or contract work, many have questions about their rights and how workplace rules against sexual harassment and other objectionable behaviors apply. Halunen Law attorney Emma Denny joined the host of Bitch Media’s Popoganda podcast to share her legal expertise on these concerns and more.
Listen to the podcast “The Best Things in Life Are Freelance” hosted by Soleil Ho.
(Podcast is approximately 36 minutes. Emma’s commentary is at 12:45 in the program)
Emma Denny’s tireless work ethic, tenacious spirit, and fierce advocacy have guided her life and are central to her success. She is an experienced, tough employment attorney, who is relentless in her pursuit of justice for clients who have been wronged by their employer.
Learn more about Halunen Law employment attorney Emma Denny.
Minnesota is known as an employment “at-will” state. This means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, or no reason at all.i This “at-will” doctrine gives employers considerable discretion, and allows them to terminate an employee for what may seem like unreasonable and irrational reasons. For example, let’s say your employer terminates you for walking into work one day with a Pepsi because he has an unofficial Coca-Cola-only policy. While this is not a great business practice, there is nothing wrongful or illegal about this termination.
So, what makes a termination “wrongful”?
Minnesota law only makes a termination “wrongful” in a few circumstances. A termination is wrongful when an employer terminates an employee because of a protected characteristic, or because the employee engaged in protected conduct/activity.
According to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), protected characteristics include an individual’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, or age. Minn. Stat. § 363A.01. Therefore, if an employer terminates an employee based upon any of these traits, the termination may be wrongful and is typically characterized as discrimination.
Next, a termination may be wrongful if an employer terminates an employee for engaging in “protected conduct,” such as reporting violations, or suspected violations of any federal or state law (i.e., “whistleblowing”); participating in an investigation or hearing; refusing to engage in unlawful activities; associating with members of a protected class; or reporting the quality of care a health care organization provides its patients. Minn. Stat. § 181.932; See also Minn. Stat. § 363A.01. In these cases, the illegal termination is typically characterized as retaliation.
Minnesota law also prohibits an employer from terminating an employee because that employee opposed a practice forbidden under the MHRA by making a complaint or filing a report of discrimination. Minn. Stat. § 363A.15
In addition to the above, your termination may be wrongful if your employer terminates you for any of the following: taking leave under the Americans with Disabilities (“ADA”) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), asking for a reasonable accommodation pursuant to the ADA, filing a workers’ compensation claim, or engaging in collective bargaining activities (e.g., “unionizing”).
What To Do If You Are Wrongfully Terminated
The first thing you can do is make sure you save all relevant documents from your employment. For example, you should save any application/offer materials, e-mails, employment agreement, performance reviews, doctor’s notes, medical leave requests, or anything similar that may be relevant to a future lawsuit.
The second thing you can do after being terminated is request, in writing, a copy of your personnel file covered by Minnesota Statute § 181.961.ii Most employment attorneys need these documents to assess the viability of your claim.
If your employer still owes you your final wages, you may request your wages as well (Minnesota Statute § 181.13). After making this demand, your former employer has 24 hours to comply or it may be assessed penalty damages equal to one days’ worth of wages for up to 15 days.
The third thing you can do is consult with an employment attorney. It is important to talk with an attorney immediately because the statute of limitations on your claim may be running. Halunen Law offers a free consultation to discuss the merits of your claim and your options.
What Types Of Damages Can You Typically Receive In A Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?
Depending on the nature of the case, a wrongfully terminated employee may be awarded wage loss damages (including front pay and back pay), emotional distress damages, and sometimes other punitive damages.iii
Don’t let your employer get away with a wrongful termination. Let’s take a stand
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