July 18th, 2012

During the first day of testimony in a trial over retaliation allegations, a Minneapolis police officer described going to work as “being dropped behind enemy lines.” He was referring to the aftermath of an FBI corruption investigation of the department that he and another officer participated in. In addition to the hostile work environment, the officers say that they were retaliated against for their cooperation with the FBI in the investigation.

Both officers were transferred off of the Violent Offender Task Force where they had each served for many years. The stated reason for the transfer was a communications problem between the officers and the federal authorities overseeing the task force.

If the officers were harassed at work or transferred because of their participation in the corruption investigation, then they may be entitled to relief under Minnesota employment laws. It is not clear exactly what type of damages they are asking for at this time, but a typical lawsuit of this nature often requests lost wages, reinstatement, or compensation for emotional trauma.

The trial process for this lawsuit will involve delving back into the meltdown of the Metro Gang Strike Force in 2009, which was engulfed in a corruption and misconduct scandal that led to its ultimate demise. One of the key pieces of evidence in the case is a memo from the police chief to one of the officers that thanks him for his participation in a 2006 FBI investigation and expresses a concern over potential retaliation.

While the facts are not usually this extreme for other Minnesota employees, this case does serve as an important reminder that retaliation and harassment at work can happen months and years after the original incident and that employees still have a right to relief.

Source: Star Tribune, “Minneapolis cop claims retaliation over role in FBI probe” Randy Frust, July 17, 2012.

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