Frequently Asked Questions
What fees do you charge?
I work most cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you owe me nothing unless I am able to recover money for you. If monetary recovery is not your goal, I will work your case based on a reasonable hourly fee structure.
Can my employer fire me for no reason?
Generally, yes. Minnesota is an “at-will” employment state. This means that in most cases, your employer can fire you at any time for any reason, for a bad reason, or for no reason at all.
Are there exceptions to employment at-will?
Yes, as set forth below:
Contract. If you and your employer signed an employment contract, it may contain language that says your employer can only fire you “for cause” (i.e., a good reason). Additionally, if your employer made an oral or written statement (including pre-employment statements) that tends to limit its right to fire you at any time for any reason, a court may find that your employer had a contractual obligation to refrain from terminating you without a good reason.
Employee Handbooks/Policies. Employee handbooks, manuals, and policies often contain provisions that limit an employer’s ability to terminate employees. For example, an employee handbook may set forth a discipline procedure that the employer must institute prior to termination. Review your employee handbook to determine your rights.
Union Agreements. If you are a union employee, your union may have entered into a collective bargaining agreement with your employer that lays out the circumstances under which your employer can fire you. Contact your union representative if you are terminated to determine if your employer’s actions are in violation of the agreement. Additionally, your employer cannot fire you for participating in any union activity.
Discrimination. State and federal laws prohibit employers from terminating employees on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, receipt of public assistance, or age.
Retaliation. State and federal laws prohibit employers from terminating employees in retaliation for exercising family medical leave, bringing a discrimination or harassment claim, participating in a discrimination or harassment investigation, or blowing the whistle on illegal or improper conduct.
Public Policy. Employers may not terminate employees for reasons that conflict with public policy, such as participating in jury duty or complying with a subpoena.
Am I eligible for unemployment if my employer fired me for a bad reason or no reason?
Yes. Even if your situation does not fall into one of the exceptions above, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits if your employer did not terminate you for misconduct.
What is illegal discrimination?
Discrimination is treating someone differently based on his/her membership in a “protected class.” Protected classes include race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, receipt of public assistance, and age. Even if an act is unfair or unreasonable, it may not be illegal unless it was carried out based on the victim’s membership in a protected class.
What is illegal harassment?
Harassment is unwanted conduct based on an individual’s membership in a “protected class” (see the preceding paragraph for a list of protected classes) that creates a hostile environment or adversely affects the individual’s employment. Most harassment claims are for sexual harassment. While morally wrong, harassment is not legally wrong unless the reason you are being mistreated is because of your association with a protected class.
Can I take medical or parental leave?
State and federal laws require some employers to provide eligible employees with leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, and to care for a serious health condition of the employee or his/her close relative. Eligible employees may sue for damages if their employer denies or interferes with their use of leave.
Is my employer required to accommodate my disability?
Employers must reasonably accommodate a qualified employee’s disability, unless the accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the employer.
What is illegal discrimination?
Discrimination is treating someone differently based on his/her membership in a “protected class.” Protected classes include race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, receipt of public assistance, and age.
Who can I sue for illegal discrimination?
You may sue any individual, company, or entity who subjects you to illegal discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, public services, education, credit, or business.
Can I sue the police for false arrest?
You can win a lawsuit against the police for false arrest if you can show that the officer who caused your arrest did so without a reasonable belief of probable cause.
Do I have to consent to a police officer’s request to search my house, car, or person?
You may refuse to consent to a search, unless the officer has obtained a warrant, or the officer has authorization to conduct the search under one of the numerous exceptions to the warrant requirement. If the officer asks for your consent to conduct a search, however, that may be a signal that he does not otherwise have authority to do so – if he had the authority, then he would probably just conduct the search without asking for your permission. Police officers wishing to conduct “consent searches” do not have a duty to warn people of their right to withhold consent.
What types of debts are covered?
The FDCPA covers personal, family, and household debts, including money you owe on a personal credit card account, an auto loan, a medical bill, and your mortgage. The FDCPA does not cover debts you incurred to run a business.
Can a debt collector contact me at any time or any place?
No. Debt collectors may not contact you before 8 AM or after 9 PM (unless you agree to it), and may not contact you at work if they are told (orally or in writing) that you are not allowed to get calls there.
What does a debt collector have to tell me about the debt?
Every debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice must also include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you do not think you owe the money.
What can I do to protect my FDCPA rights?
- Save every letter or notice you get from a debt collector, including the envelope
- Take detailed notes of every conversation you have with a debt collector
- Write down the debt collector’s phone number
- Save every voice-message left by a debt collector
- Record your telephone conversations with debt collectors. Most states permit the recording of telephone conversations with debt collectors, including Minnesota