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Minnesota Supreme Court Issues Landmark Disability Discrimination Decision

On February 27, 2019, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a major decision in favor of employees. The case, Daniel v. Minneapolis, addressed whether an employee who is disabled as a result of a work injury can bring a claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). For decades, such employees were prohibited from filing MHRA claims because of a prior supreme court ruling in Karst v. FC Hayer Co., Inc. (issued in 1989). Under Karst, disabled employees were prohibited from bringing human rights claims because they were preempted by Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Consequently, any employee who experienced disability discrimination resulting from a work injury was left without any recourse to remedy the discrimination.

This led to absurd results. For example, if an employee suffered a disabling injury outside of work, she would be protected from discrimination under the MHRA. But if that same employee became disabled at work, she would have no protection from discrimination. Her employer would be free to fire her because of her disability and nothing more. This was bad policy for Minnesotans and was out of step with the rest of the country, with nearly every state rejecting similar interpretations of their own state laws.

In Daniel, the Minnesota Supreme Court corrected that problem and overruled the Karst decision. Writing for a 5-2 majority, Justice Margaret Chutich wrote, “Unlike the workers’ compensation act, the human rights act is a civil rights law that protects employees from unlawful employment discrimination.” The Court recognized the fundamental difference between the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is designed to remedy work injuries, and the MHRA, which is designed to protect disabled employees from discrimination. Because of these differences, neither law preempts the other. Instead, workers have rights under both.

Teske, Katz, Kitzer & Rochel lawyers Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel wrote on behalf of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association in a “friend of the court” or amicus brief, asking the Supreme Court to overrule the Karst decision. “This marks a great step forward for all employees in Minnesota and corrects a decades-long error in the law,” said Phillip Kitzer. “Employees should not be treated differently and denied equal protection simply because they become disabled as a result of a work injury. That is not consistent with Minnesota’s strong history of protecting and advancing human rights,” added Brian Rochel.

If you have any questions about Daniel v. Minneapolis, disability discrimination, workers’ compensation retaliation, or employment law generally, please contact Teske, Katz, Kitzer & Rochel today.

Super Lawyers Names Vildan Teske a Top 100 Lawyer and Top 50 Women Lawyer, and Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel Rising Stars

We are excited to announce that, once again, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partners have been named to the annual Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists. Vildan Teske has been named one of the Top 100 Lawyers and one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Minnesota. This is a very high distinction reserved for the top attorneys under the Super Lawyers rating system–and is especially impressive given that there are more than 25,000 attorneys in Minnesota. 

Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel were both again named to the list of Rising Stars honorees as well. Vildan Teske was named a Super Lawyer in the “Class Action/Mass Torts” category, while Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel were named Rising Stars honorees in the “Employment Litigation: Plaintiff” category.  

Each year, only a select few attorneys are honored as Super Lawyers or Rising Stars. Only 5% of the attorneys in Minnesota are recognized as Super Lawyers, and only 2.5% of attorneys are named as Rising Stars (for attorneys in their first 10 years of practice or under the age of 40). The award is based on a combination of  objective criteria,  peer nominations, and a blue ribbon panel review

For individual profiles and to see Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel’s firm profile, visit the Super Lawyers website. To view the full digital Super Lawyers magazine with the complete list, click here.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is proud of all of its attorneys, and grateful to the legal community for this recognition.

Brian Rochel Presents at NELA’s 2018 Annual Convention

On June 28, 2018, Brian Rochel presented along with co-panelists Kathy Butler and David Schlesinger at the National Employment Lawyers’ Association’s (NELA) 2018 Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

Brian, Kathy and David’s panel, entitled “Outside-The-Box Discovery Tools: Getting Creative with Discovery in The Era of Proportionality,” focused on practical tips and advice for employee advocates.

Brian is an experienced litigator, representing hundreds of workers in lawsuits throughout his career. That work frequently includes fights over discovery—documents and evidence that plaintiffs need to prove their cases.

If you have questions about employment litigation or employment law please contact us and we will be happy to help you.

Brian Rochel Moderates Panel on Proving Damages at Employment Law Institute

On May 21, 2018, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partner Brian Rochel presented a continuing legal education seminar to his peers at the Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute. The Employment Law Institute, billed as “the Nation’s best employment law conference,” is a program that attracted approximately 1,400 lawyers and employment law professionals. Rochel, together with his co-panelists Anna Prakash, Sheila Engelmeier and Kaarin Nelson Schafer, presented a session entitled “What’s the Harm? – Evaluating and Proving Damages.” The discussion focused on methods of proving damages in trial of employment law claims, as well as presenting damages in settlement and pre-litigation contexts.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel’s attorneys regularly practice employment law on behalf of employees. If you have questions about employment law, or would like to learn more about damages and remedies available to employees, contact us today.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel Brings Class Action Employment Lawsuit against City of Minneapolis

On January 6, 2017, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel initiated Stewart, et al. v. The City of Minneapolis, a class action employment lawsuit. The suit is brought in Minnesota District Court, Fourth District–Hennepin County.

Laurence Stewart, the named plaintiff, is a former employee of Minneapolis in its Public Works Department. Stewart seeks classwide relief for himself and all other similar employees. The Complaint alleges that the City’s return to work policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) because it fails to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers.

Mr. Stewart is represented by Brian Rochel, Marisa Katz and Douglas Micko, of Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, PLLP. Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is a class action and employment law firm with decades of experience around the country.

For more information, or if you have been terminated by the City of Minneapolis and have questions about this lawsuit, contact Brian Rochel here or via email at rochel@tkkrlaw.com.

A full press release and copy of the Complaint that has been served are available here:

Press Release

Stewart v. Minneapolis Complaint

All Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel Attorneys Named to Super Lawyers/Rising Stars List; Micko Named One of Minnesota’s Top 100 Lawyers

Once again, all of Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel’s attorneys have been named to the annual  Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists. Additionally, Doug Micko has been named as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Minnesota, a high distinction reserved for the top attorneys under the Super Lawyers rating system–especially impressive given that there are more than 20,000 attorneys practicing in Minnesota. 

Vildan Teske was named a Super Lawyer honoree and Marisa Katz was named a Rising Star honoree, both in the “Class Action/Mass Torts” category.  Doug Micko was named a Super Lawyer honoree and Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel were named named Rising Stars honorees, all  in the “Employment Litigation: Plaintiff” category.  

 Each year, only a select few attorneys are honored as Super Lawyers or Rising Stars. Only 5% of the attorneys in Minnesota are recognized as Super Lawyers, and only 2.5% of attorneys are named as Rising Stars (for attorneys in their first 10 years of practice or under the age of 40). The award is based on a combination of  objective criteria,  peer nominations, and a blue ribbon panel review

For individual profiles and to see Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel’s firm profile, visit the Super Lawyers website. To view the full digital Super Lawyers magazine with the complete list, click here.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is proud of all of its attorneys, and grateful to the legal community for this recognition.

Brian Rochel Presents at NELA National Convention in Los Angeles, CA

Brian Rochel presented at the National Employment Lawyer Association’s (NELA) annual convention, held from June 22-25 in Los Angeles, CA. Brian presented as part of a panel entitled, “What I Wish I Knew When I was Starting Out as a Plaintiffs’ Employment Lawyer.” The presentation covered a wide breadth of topics, and was aimed at giving newer attorneys practical advice on how to develop their practices.

Mr. Rochel participated along with co-panelists Elissa J. Hobfoll and Whitney Judkins, and moderator Nina Pirrotti. For more information about NELA and/or the 2016 national convention, click here.

 

Brian Rochel and Phillip Kitzer Present to Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust on ADA, Workers’ Compensation Retaliation, and FMLA Laws

On June 15, 2016, Brian Rochel and Phillip Kitzer presented at the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust’s (MCIT) seminar, Advanced Employment Issues for Public Entities.  The presentation, titled The Intersection of Disability, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Laws, addressed the complications for employers when employees request accommodations related to a disability or work-related injury, or when employees request time off related to a disability, workers’ compensation injury, or FMLA leave.

The MCIT is an entity composed of Minnesota counties and public entities that provides risk management and loss services to its members.  The Advanced Employment Issues for Public Entities seminar was a full day of training for human resources professionals that examined emerging workplace concerns.  Mr. Rochel and Mr. Kitzer primarily represent employees in workplace disputes, but presented to human resources employees multiple examples of mistakes they commonly see made by employers that lead to wrongful termination lawsuits.

Judge Rules in Favor of Employees in Background Check Class Action

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, along with co-counsel Nichols Kaster, represents a group of employees and prospective employees who were provided illegal background check disclosures by iQor. The case, Shoots, et al. v. iQor, is filed in the District of Minnesota and alleges that iQor’s authorization and disclosure forms violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In a ruling today by Judge Susan Richard Nelson, the Court denied iQor’s motion to dismiss the suit and allowed the class plaintiffs’ claims to move forward. The complete decision is available here

Brian Rochel, partner at Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, argued the case on behalf of the plaintiffs. Doug Micko, one of the lead attorneys in the suit, remarked, “Judge Nelson’s order is a win to employees and consumers nationwide. Her ruling reaffirms what the majority of courts have held, that including extra information in disclosure forms violates the FCRA and infringes on the rights of employees and prospective employees to know what they are giving up.” 

Background checks—also referred to as credit reports or consumer reports–have grown exponentially in recent years, especially in the employment context. Nearly half of all employers now require employees and job applicants to authorize background checks, and hundreds of new companies that provide background checks are popping up around the country. Meanwhile, many of these companies and employers do not follow the strict state and federal guidelines that govern background checks and consumer credit reports, including the FCRA. This has led to significant issues for millions of people across the US

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is a fierce advocate for employees and consumers whose rights are violated during the background check process. The ruling in Shoots v. iQor is one more step in the process to even the playing field for employees in this growing area. 

If you believe your rights have been violated, or have questions about background checks, credit reports or consumer reports, contact us today.

Brian Rochel recognized again as North Star Lawyer for pro bono service

Brian Rochel has been designated as a North Star Lawyer for 2015, the third consecutive year Mr. Rochel has received the designation.

The North Star Lawyer designation is awarded to Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) members who provided 50 or more hours of pro bono service in 2015.  The  entire list of recipients will soon be available here.