Brian T. Rochel

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About Brian

Brian Rochel is a very experienced employment lawyer. Brian frequently represents employees, executives and whistleblowers across all types of claims. He has obtained favorable results for his clients at trial and arbitration, in litigation, and regularly negotiates favorable outcomes, including in mediation. He has achieved great results in retaliation, wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, age discrimination, and other claims. Brian also represents whistleblowers in qui tam, False Claims Act (FCA) and similar lawsuits.

Brian has tried many employment cases to judgment. His successes include a trial award of $361,000 in a disability discrimination case; a $360,000 jury verdict in an employment retaliation claim; and a $140,000 jury verdict for a woman who was sexually harassed and fired for reporting the harassment. Brian’s victories also include a win at the Minnesota Court of Appeals, reversing dismissal of fraud and misrepresentation claims and remanding the case for a jury trial.

Brian has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers every year since 2012. This is a rare distinction awarded to only 2.5% of practicing attorneys, and is awarded based on a combination of peer nominations and objective criteria. Brian was also named a “Labor & Employment Star” by Benchmark Litigation and an  “Up & Coming Attorney” by Minnesota Lawyer.

Brian is a well-respected leader in employment law. He was an adjunct professor at both the University of Minnesota Law School and Mitchell | Hamline School of Law. Brian dedicates his career to serving all employees. When he is not representing clients, he fights for workers any way he can. He has appeared before the Minnesota Supreme Court as a member of the MN-NELA Amicus Committee, writing briefs in many high-profile cases. Examples include Friedlander v. Edward Lifesciences (a major case on protections under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act), Sanchez v. Dahlke Trailer Sales (a seminal case on the intersection of federal immigration law and Minnesota law prohibiting employment retaliation), Ford v. Minneapolis Public Schools (establishing a 6-year statute of limitation in Minnesota whistleblower claims), and Smith v. City of Minneapolis (a leading case on the Minnesota Human Rights Act and alternative dispute resolution).

Brian also regularly presents and writes on issues impacting employees’ rights and is a member of several organizations. He was recognized as “Outstanding Author of the Year” by the Federal Bar Association’s (FBA) Labor & Employment Section. He has also served on the boards of the National Employment Lawyers’ Association’s (NELA) Eighth Circuit and Minnesota chapters, as well as the FBA Labor & Employment Section and Younger Lawyers’ Division.


Brian has received numerous awards and recognitions and is very active in his community, in federal, state and local bar associations, and particularly in the labor and employment field advocating for employees’ rights. Here are some examples:

-Named a “Labor & Employment Star – Midwest” by Benchmark Litigation (2018)

NamedUp & Coming Attorney” by Minnesota Lawyer (2017)

-Named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers, Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine (2012-present)

-Rated a perfect 10 out of 10 (“Superb”) by Avvo

-Awarded the “Outstanding Author of the Year” by the Federal Bar Association (FBA) Labor & Employment Section (2015)

-Recognized as Minnesota State Bar Association North Star Lawyer for pro bono service (2014-present)


• Adjunct Professor, University of Minnesota Law School, 2018

• Adjunct Faculty, Mitchell | Hamline School of Law, 2017

• Co-Chair, Committee on Programming and Continuing Legal Education, FBA Labor & Employment Section, 2016-2017

• Co-Chair, Committee on Publications and Public Relations, FBA Labor & Employment Section, 2015-2017

• Member, Federal Bar Association Labor & Employment Section, 2010-present

• Vice President, National Employment Lawyers Association–Minnesota Chapter (MN-NELA), 2016-2017

• Board Member, National Employment Lawyers Association–Minnesota Chapter (MN-NELA), 2014-2017

• Member, National Employment Lawyers Association–Minnesota Chapter (MN-NELA), 2010-present

• Member, National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), 2011-present

• Member, Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA), Labor & Employment Section, 2011-present

• Member, Public Justice, 2019-present

• Board Member, FBA Younger Lawyers Division (YLD), 2015-2017; Liaison to FBA Labor & Employment Section

• Volunteer Attorney, Minnesota State Bar Association Unemployment Appeals Clinic, 2012-2017

• Volunteer Attorney, Pro Se Project, U.S. District Court, 2011-present

• Committee Member, Minnesota State Bar Association Human Rights Committee, 2012-2014

• Board Member, National Employment Lawyers Association–8th Circuit Chapter,  2012-2014

• Volunteer Facilitator, Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice Partnership, 2011-present; Executive Committee, 2012-2013


Brian has appeared on radio, served as a regular contributor to a national employment publication, presented on many panels, and has been published in national and local legal periodicals regarding employment law issues. Following are examples of Brian’s presentations and published works.

• “Plaintiff’s Employment Perspective on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Minnesota-NELA, February 2018

• “It’s About Sending a Message: Moving for Punitive Damages,” Minnesota-NELA, November 2017

• “What I Wish I Knew Starting Out As a Plaintiff’s Employment Lawyer,” National Employment Lawyers Association National Convention, Los Angeles, CA; June 2016

• “The Intersection of Disability, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Laws,” Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust’s (MCIT), Advanced Employment Issues for Public Entities; June 2016

•”LGBT Issues: Taking Action and Getting Results,” National Employment Lawyers Association–Eighth Circuit Biennial Conference, Kansas City, MO; April 2016

Employment Law Series: The Intersection of Disability, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Laws,” Minnesota CLE, October 2015 
“What’s New at the EEOC in the Wake of Recent Supreme Court Decisions,” (Moderator/OrganizerFederal Bar Association Labor & Employment Section Seminar, August 2015
• “The MHRA Right to a Jury Trial–When Does It Apply?” Minnesota-NELA, October 2014
“Federal Law Clerks’ Tips on Trial and Dispositive Motions,” (Moderator/Organizer) Federal Bar Association Labor & Employment Section Seminar, September 2014
• “ADAAA Claims: Employers Retreat and Reload”(Moderator), 8th Circuit Conference, National Employment Lawyers Association, April 2014
• “Becoming the Land of 10,000 Languages: Effectively Working with Interpreters and Navigating other Challenges when Representing Immigrants” (Moderator), Minnesota State Bar Association, 2013
• “Pratfalls, Cat’s Paws and Fact Questions: Maximizing the Potential in Employee Retaliation Claims,” 2013 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, July 16, 2013
• “Hostile Work Environments: Beyond Sexual Harassment,” Minnesota State Bar Association-Labor & Employment Section, May 8, 2012
• “Winning Civil Damages in Workers’ Compensation Claims,” Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ), May 4, 2012
• “The Constitutional Right to a Jury Trial in MHRA Claims,” Minnesota State Bar Association Human Rights Committee, February 13, 2012
• “Civil Causes of Action Related to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act: §176.82,” MAJ 2012 Worker’s Compensation Seminar, February 10, 2012
• “Employment Law Series: Basics of Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claims,” Minnesota CLE, October 10, 2012

Title: Employment Law Survey & Protecting Employee Rights
Organization: The Legal Journal
Type: Radio Broadcast
Year: 2012


“Is McDonnell Douglas Too Burdensome? Circuits Question the Utility of the Decades Old Burden-Shifting Model,” The Labouring Oar, Federal Bar Association, Spring 2015 (coauthored with Phillip M. Kitzer & Frances E. Baillon)
“The Jury’s Still Out: Assessing the Constitutionality of the MHRA’s Ban on Jury Trials,” The Hennepin Lawyer, March 2013 (coauthored with Phillip M. Kitzer)
• Co-Editor, Federal Bar Association Labor & Employment Circuit Update, 2014-2017
• Co-Editor, Federal Bar Association’s “Labouring Oar” Magazine, 2015-2017
• Bi-monthly Contributor, Federal Bar Association Labor & Employment Circuit Update (Eighth Circuit), 2013-2015
• Reviewer, BNA/Employment Law Aspects of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation–Minnesota Section, 2014
• “Universal Governmentality: A Critical Take on ‘Universal’ Human Rights and the Right to Education in Sri Lanka,” 3 INT’L J. CIV. SOC’Y L. 1 ( 2010)

Representative Cases

Dubiel v. G&K Services, File No. 27-CV-10-5234 (Minn. Dist. Ct. May 9, 2011) (jury verdict of $361,000 in workers’ compensation retaliation case);
Abrahamson v. National Pawn Co. of Minnesota, (Minn. Dist. Ct.  Apr. 2014) (jury verdict of $133,000 for sexual harassment and retaliation);
Fleck v. FMMI, (Minn. Dist. Ct. April 1, 2013) (win at trial, award of $357,000 in discrimination case–case involved two trials);
Sletten v. CPS, No. A12-2210 (Minn. Ct. App. June 3, 2013) (court of appeals victory reversing summary judgment on fraud and tortious interference claims and remanding for trial);
Oliver v. MCTC, (January 2015) (summary judgment denied in disability and workers’ compensation retaliation claims);
Lindner v. Donatelli Bros. of White Bear Lake, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110268, 1 (D. Minn. Aug. 11, 2014) (summary judgment denied on FMLA and disability claims);
Gordon and Haggins v. The New French Bakery, File No. 27-CV-11-16306 (Minn. Dist. Ct. 2012) (court denied both of Defendant’s motions for summary judgment in their entirety).


• Supreme Court of Minnesota
• U.S. District Court District of Minnesota
• U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
• U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin


• Juris Doctorate Degree, summa cum laude, Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota; Dean’s List and Articles Editor, Hamline Journal of Public Law & Policy
• Certificate in Advocacy & Problem Solving, Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, Dispute Resolution Center
• Bachelor of Art’s Degree, magna cum laude, Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota

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