Titled “This Summer and Beyond,” the Affinity Bar Student Job Symposium gave law students a unique opportunity to network with their peers, hear from legal professionals, and explore job opportunities with a host of potential employers. The March 21st event featured a jobs panel moderated by Halunen Law attorney, and President of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Benjamin Kwan. The panel discussed various practice areas, the need for increased diversity in the legal field, job search strategies, and more. Kwan co-organized the event, which drew nearly 100 law students and more than 70 lawyers from 54 different legal employers to the networking portion of the evening. Employers came from all over Minnesota. Halunen Law is proud to support Benjamin Kwan’s continued leadership role in the legal community, and his dedication to support and mentor the next generation of attorneys.
With several Halunen attorneys and staff members having played high school hockey “back in the day,” and the Firm’s founder Clayton Halunen hailing from northern Minnesota’s hockey mecca, being part of the 2017 Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament was a natural fit. It is also is turning out to be a lot of fun.
During the Boys’ Tournament, Halunen Law’s booth at the Xcel Center Tournament Zone features a large photo cutout of a hockey player. People are encouraged to stop by, ‘smile, click, and share’ and post their image using the #HalunenLaw #YourEnforcer on social media. For every social media post including the #YourEnforcer, Halunen Law will donate $1 to the Herb Brooks Foundation Rink Rats, up to $1,000.
Halunen Law’s João da Fonseca reports on an important presentation “Addressing Barriers to Voting by Persons with Disabilities.”
Minnesota Chapter Sponsors CLE and Webinar Addressing Barriers to Voting by Persons with Disabilities
By João da Fonseca
Protecting the right of every American to vote is most fundamental to a robust democratic process. Yet, this right has not been enjoyed by every American. For example, only sixty years ago, African Americans were mostly disenfranchised because of legal mechanisms, such as poll taxes, designed to prohibit them from voting. This, despite the constitutional force of the Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed in the 1870s with the explicit purpose of securing the rights of African American men to vote. Things only changed in the 1960s with the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which dismantled these longstanding barriers to voting. Despite these significant victories, up to this day, there remain members of our population who are deprived of the right to vote, including persons with cognitive disabilities.
Halunen Law attorney Ben Kwan was appointed to a one-year term as president of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) on October 1. As president, Ben leads a board of nine directors overseeing the non-profit association of Asian and Asian American attorneys in Minnesota. MNAPABA counts approximately 200 attorneys, judges, and law students as members.
This will be Ben’s fourth year of service on the MNAPABA board. During his tenure he overhauled and launched MNAPABA’s website, implemented a sophisticated membership management platform, and used his skills as a former television journalist to promote and give voice to the organization and its members through numerous stories in the media.
As board president, Ben looks forward to overseeing programming and events that further MNAPABA’s mission: “promoting and supporting the personal and professional development of Asian American and Pacific American lawyers, judges, and law students, serving as an advocate for the Asian Pacific American community in Minnesota, and promoting equal access to justice.” At the MNAPABA Annual Gala, Ben called on MNAPABA members to devote the next year to service–to the profession, the Asian Pacific American community, and to one another.
Halunen Law congratulates Ben on this important appointment and the opportunity to share his tremendous leadership skills with MNAPABA in the year ahead.
Halunen Law paralegal Jennifer M. Vukelich-Seltz will take part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s® on September 17, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The local event is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association’s Minnesota – North Dakota Chapter, and inspires thousands of participants from all ages and abilities from across the region. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
“I have been involved with the Alzheimer’s Association and on the Walk committee for 10 years now,” said Jennifer. “My Grandfather suffered from the disease and died in 2007. It’s a cause that is very dear to my heart.”
Halunen Law is proud to support Jennifer’s participation in this important event and her dedication to make a difference.
Forged Under Civil War Fire, The False Claims Act Continues To Serve As Basis For Private Citizens To Blow The Whistle On Would-Be Fraudsters Of The Government Trust
Under a little-known law, private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government can bring a lawsuit against the offending organization. Called the False Claims Act, the law—often called the original Whistleblower Law — originated in the Civil War era, when rampant fraud against the U.S. government threatened the very existence of the country.
Sickened by the spectacle of contractors supplying the army with broken guns and sand-packed bullets, lame pack mules and cardboard boots, President Lincoln pressed Congress for a law setting severe financial penalties for fraud against the government. The law also included a provision to empower private citizens to sue fraud perpetrators on behalf of the government. Known by its Latin name as “qui tam,” this provision allows the courts to award whistleblowers, called “relators” under this law, a share of the monies recovered by the government in fraud cases. In Lincoln’s time, the law brought corrupt defense contractors to heel. Today it serves to protect taxpayers against fraud from contractors in any number of industries. Equally important, the law protects individuals, like the Civil War soldiers fighting with inferior equipment, who suffered injury as a result of the fraud. Many states, including Minnesota, have adopted whistleblower laws to protect against fraud against state agencies.
Whether or not you were aware of it, Minnesota recently took another giant leap forward in protecting its employees from unfair discrimination in the workplace. On Mother’s Day 2014, Governor Dayton signed into law the Women’s Economic Security Act. While the title suggests that the act’s focus is equal pay for women, it actually provides a broad range of new protections for all Minnesotans.
Familial Status as a Protected Class
One effect of the act is that the Minnesota Human Rights Act is amended to include familial status as a protected class. This means that an employer cannot take adverse employment action against an individual on the basis of them being a parent, guardian, or designee, of a child who lives with them. It also means that a person cannot be punished for being pregnant or securing custody of anybody under 18.
It was just another day at work, and you were going about your usual tasks. You never anticipated getting injured on the job, but it happened. After a trip to the emergency room, numerous doctor visits, and a week of time off from work, the medical bills are piling up and the mortgage payment is due in two weeks. Your sister had a work injury a year ago, and you knew her employer paid the extra expenses caused by the injury. You just assumed your employer would take care of your expenses too. However, today you received a letter saying that your employer is denying your workers’ compensation benefits. They claim you are an independent contractor and ineligible. You have never even considered yourself an independent contractor. Now what?
What is a Whistleblower?
Has your treatment on the job changed recently? Have you suddenly received performance criticisms you have never received before? Were you terminated for a bogus reason? And did this negative treatment come after a time you told your employer or a government agency that the company was doing something illegal?
If this sounds familiar, you may be a whistleblower and the workplace retaliation you have experienced is likely illegal. Many states (including Minnesota) and federal statutes prohibit what has happened to you and you may have recourse for the damage caused by the retaliation.
Did you know that Minnesota law protects employees from discrimination because of the race of their family and friends? For example, if your boss tells you that you can’t have photos of your bi-racial child in your cube or office, but allows white employees to leave up photos of their white children, you may be experiencing discrimination based on race. Or if your significant other is a person of a different race and people at work make negative remarks about that, you may be experiencing discrimination based on race. If you find yourself in a situation where your boss makes offensive remarks or treats you differently because of the race of your family members or friends, this may well be discrimination because of race association.
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