August 18, 2017 – Firm partner Joni Thome was cited in yesterday’s Star Tribune article concerning two employees who were fired for wearing Nazi uniforms. “In Minnesota…employees can be terminated for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason at all, just so long as it’s not an illegal reason.” Here, the employees have little recourse to contest their terminations.
August 18, 2017 – Yesterday, the Star Tribune reported that two employees of the Uptown Diner in Minneapolis were fired after photos surfaced of them wearing Nazi uniforms and sporting items espousing white supremacy. In taking the action, the restaurant asserted that it “unequivocally repudiates the beliefs and ideals of Nazis and white supremacy” and is “committed to fostering an inclusive, welcoming environment at our restaurant and in our community.”
Although the two employees claimed they are not racists, but instead are history enthusiasts and have been historical re-enactors (see this WCCO report), the Star Tribune article raised the issue of whether they can be fired for their actions. The short answer is yes. As Joni Thome, a long-time Minneapolis employment law attorney and MSBA certified employment law specialist, noted in the article, “Minnesota is generally an at-will employment state, which means employees can be terminated for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason at all, just so long as it’s not an illegal reason.” While Minnesota has broad protections for employees under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, including race and religion, political beliefs and affiliations are not protected classes. As such, the employees have little recourse to contest the terminations.
Joni Thome is founding partner of Wanta Thome PLC and has nearly twenty-five years of experience working on behalf of employees who have been unlawfully terminated from their jobs due to discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Joni has been named a Super Lawyer in Employment Litigation: Plaintiff by her peers regularly since 2003 and recognized as one of Minnesota’s Top 50 Women Lawyers and a Top 100 Super Lawyer.
Wanta Thome PLC is a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of employees. If you believe your rights have been violated, contact Joni or any of out attorneys by clicking here or calling us at 612-252-3570.