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Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP

100 South Fifth Street, Suite 1200, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Visit: https://www.baillonthome.com

Phone: 612-252-3570

Fax: 612-252-3571

Licensed Since: 1992

Education:Hamline University School of Law

Practice Areas:

  • Employment Litigation: Plaintiff (60%)
  • Employment & Labor: Employee (40%)

Q Attorney Profile

Joni M. Thome has over twenty-five years of experience and is widely known for her trial and appellate work on behalf of employees who have been wrongfully terminated from their jobs due to discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation. A founding partner of Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP, she has obtained millions of dollars for her clients in awards and settlements, including many multiple-party, collective action, and class action employment lawsuits.

Joni is a certified Employment Law Specialist and has been named a Super Lawyer by her peers regularly since 2003. She has been recognized as one of Minnesota\'s Top 50 Women Super Lawyers every year since 2012, has repeatedly been named one of Minnesota\'s Top 100 Super Lawyers and was named to the Best Lawyers in America 2018 list. Joni has been the recipient of several awards for her work, including the 2012 Karla Wahl Dedicated Advocacy Award by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association. The award honors one Minnesota attorney each year for his or her “ceaseless and courageous efforts to better the rights of Minnesota employees.”

Q More info

About Joni Thome

Admitted: 1992, Minnesota

Professional Webpage: https://www.baillonthome.com/team/joni-m-thome


  • Karla Wahl Award, National Employment Lawyer Association, Minnesota Chapter, 2012
  • Community Service Award, Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, 1999

Special Licenses/Certifications:

  • Employment Law Specialist

Bar/Professional Activity:

  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota
  • Minnesota State Bar Association, Labor & Employment Law Section, Member
  • National Gay and Lesbian Law Association, Past Chair and Board Member
  • 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, Founder, Past Chair and Board Member Emeritus
  • Federal Bar Association, Minnesota Chapter, Member
  • Minnesota Supreme Court
  • Hennepin County Bar Association, Member

Pro bono/Community Service:

  • Minnesota Girls Fastpitch Association/Club 612, Founding Board Member
  • Minnesota AIDS Project, Volunteer Attorney
  • Cancer Legal Line, Attorney Referral Program Volunteer
  • OutFront Minnesota, Attorney Referral Program Volunteer

Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

  • Winning the Reprisal Case - Top Employment Litigators Tell How, Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, Panelist with Kathleen Bogas, Jim Kaster and Lucas Kaster, 2018
  • Discussed the key whistleblower decisions all litigators should know and the lessons they teach to employment law practitioners., Panelist with Sara McGrane, 8 Most Important Whistleblowers Cases - The Cases You Must Know and How They Impact Plaintiffs and Defense, Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, 2019
  • Investigations of an Employee's Alleged Misconduct, Minnesota CLE, Panelist with Leonard Segal, 2019
  • The Impact of Political Polarization: Proving Discrimination Through Political Speech, MDHR Human Rights Symposium, Co-Presenter with Dustin Massie, Dec. 5, 2018, 2018
  • Hamline University Journal of Law and Policy, Associate, 1990-1992
  • Reconciling Nondiscrimination with the Affirmation of Cultural Diversity, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall 1997
  • Disability Discrimination, Caregiver Discrimination and FMLA Violations, Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, Annual Presenter
  • Ethics and Bias Seminar, Minnesota Institute for Legal Education, Presenter, 2001
  • Employment Law Institute, Minnesota Institute for Legal Education, Speaker, 2001
  • Lavender Law Conference, National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, Speaker, 1993, 2001-2004
  • American Association of Law Libraries, Annual Conference, Speaker, 2001
  • Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity at the University of St Thomas, Panelist, 2010
  • Reflection on the 20th Anniversary of the 1995 HCBA Report, William Mitchell College of Law Law Review, Volume 41, Issue 1: LGBTQ Issues, 2015  
  • Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History, Documentary, Attorney Interview, 2010
  • Minneapolis Fire Department: The Kris Lemon Story, Insider Exclusive, Attorney Interview, 2013
  • Top 10 Employment Claims Plaintiffs Lawyers Overlook, Employment Law Institute, Panelist with Chris Jozwiak, 2016
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination: Recent Developments in Employment Law, MLBA Annual Conference, Panelist with Dustin W. Massie, 2017
  • Employment Claims Arising Out of Workers’ Compensation Claims, Minnesota CLE Workers’ Compensation Institute, Panelist with Tom Atkinson, 2017
  • 2017 ADA Update, Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, Panelist with Kathryn Mrkonich-Wilson, 2017
  • Uptown Diner Fires 2 Workers Photographed Wearing Nazi Uniforms, Star Tribune, Interview, 2017
  • Wait…That Happened at Work?: When Inappropriate Workplace Conduct Becomes Actionable, Mitchell Hamline School of Law Alumni CLE Series, Panelist with Frances Baillon, 2018
  • Winning the Harassment Case - Strategies and Tactics, Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, Panelist with Kathleen Bogas, Jim Kaster and David Schlesinger, 2018

Representative Clients:

  • Frieler v. Carlson Mktg. Grp., Inc., 751 N.W.2d 558 (Minn. 2008) (setting precedent that a plaintiff alleging sexual harassment by a supervisor in violation of the MHRA is not required to prove employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take timely and appropriate action; and setting precedent that employer is subject to vicarious liability for an actionable hostile environment created by supervisor with immediate or successively higher authority over victimized employee)
  • Ritter v. Auntie Ruth's Furry Friends, Case No. A14-1044 (Minn. Ct. App. Feb. 9, 2015) (reversing dismissal of MHRA age discrimination case wherein just 45 days after new owners of the business took control, plaintiff's manager made derogatory comments about plaintiff's age, including complaining to plaintiff that "you cost a lot" (referencing her insurance premiums) and "we can't afford to keep you," criticizing plaintiff's clothing as being "from the 70s," and being told by the manager repeatedly that plaintiff was not close enough in age to the rest of the staff to relate to them and that there were "generational things" or "generation gaps" between Plaintiff and the younger employees) 
  • Schwarzkopf v. Brunswick Corp., 833 F.Supp. 2d 1106 (D. Minn. 2011) (partial denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment where genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether former employee was subjected to a hostile work environment when his co-workers repeatedly made derogatory comments about his perceived disability over a period of more than a year)
  • Roslyn v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., No. 05-0441 2005 WL 1529937 (D. Minn. June 29, 2005) (denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss where plaintiff sufficiently alleged that defendant discriminated against him in violation of USERRA by denying him benefits because of his military reserve status)
  • Henry v. Indigenous People’s Task Force, No. A06-160, 2006 WL 3719658 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 19, 2006) (holding district court erred in granting defendant’s summary judgment motion because the evidence raised a genuine issue of material fact as to the credibility of defendant’s articulated reason for termination and supported an inference that defendant terminated plaintiff and then sought justification ex post facto)
  • Goins v. West Grp., 635 N.W.2d 717 (Minn. 2001) (establishing transgender former employee was member of class protected under the MHRA)
  • Hollenkamp v. Jennie-O, No. 07-CV-04725 (D. Minn. June 1, 2009) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of disability discrimination because genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant’s reasons for firing plaintiff were pretextual where defendant fired plaintiff, a longtime employee, shortly after plaintiff became disabled)
  • EEOC, et. al. v. Long Prairie Packing (1998) (represented several individual clients as well as working with the EEOC for class members who were victims of same-sex and opposite sex sexual harassment; the matters resulted in settlements totaling over $2 million that were distributed to employees of the company, some of whom had been subjected to years of working in a sexually hostile work environment)
  • Brenden v. Westonka Public Schs., No. EM 03-017571 (Dist. Ct. Minn. 2004) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of age discrimination and workers’ compensation retaliation where genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether plaintiff’s position was eliminated as part of the reduction-in-force, and whether the facts surrounding the elimination of the plaintiff’s position, creation of a similar position, and the decision not to hire plaintiff for the newly created position, despite his prior good work evaluations, was a pretext for illegal motives; subsequently, judgment entered for plaintiff following jury trial and award of damages)
  • Schutz v. Minneapolis Sch. Dist. Special Sch. Dist. No. 1, No. 27-CV-06-474 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Jan. 24, 2007) (following trial, judgment entered in favor of plaintiff on her claim of reprisal in violation of the MHRA, awarding damages in the amount of $149,000 plus damages for emotional distress in the amount of $50,000, attorney’s fees and costs)
  • Bahr v. Capella Univ., 765 N.W.2d 428 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009) cert. granted (June 18, 2009) (setting standard for statutorily protected conduct in retaliation cases under the MHRA)
  • Sonkowsky ex rel. Sonkowsky v. Board of Educ. for Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 721, 327 F.3d 675 (8th Cir. 2003) (asserting school violated elementary student’s first and fourteenth amendment rights and discriminated against him because of a disability in violation of the MHRA when he was required to color a picture of a football player in Minnesota Vikings’ colors, was prohibited from wearing Green Bay Packers’ jersey in class photo and was denied participating in school field trip to the Vikings’ practice facility at Winter Park)
  • Kaufenberg v. Schwan’s Home Serv., Inc., No. A08-0214, 2009 WL 234014 (Minn. Ct. App. Feb. 3, 2009) (genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether employee’s  termination for the alleged falsification of medical records was pretext where employee presented legitimate explanation for the omissions on her medical report, employer had a policy of not terminating employees for mistakes and termination followed worker’s compensation claim)
  • Baker v. Am. Furniture Liquidators, No. 27-CV-06-4642 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Nov. 13, 2006) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of sexual harassment hostile work environment in violation of the MHRA, finding defendant could not assert affirmative defense and that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive to create a hostile work environment)
  • EEOC v. Fed. Express Corp., 165 F.Supp. 2d 956 (D. Minn. 2001) (setting precedent for the recognition of AIDS as a qualifying disability under the ADA; denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment where genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant-employer met its obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to former employee diagnosed with AIDS) 
  • Truehl v. Roundy’s Supermarket, Inc., No. 27-CV-09-18698 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Apr. 23, 2010) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of reprisal in violation of the MHRA because several genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether plaintiff engaged in protected conduct when she requested schedule changes accompanied by notes from her doctor regarding her disability)
  • Lemon v. City of Minneapolis, No. 27-CV-08-11976 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Dec. 1, 2009) (following a bench trial, district court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff on her claims of reprisal in violation of the MHRA and reprisal under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, finding that defendant’s insults, demotion, and attempt to fire plaintiff demonstrated a “campaign of retaliatory actions” toward her based on her complaints about her work environment)
  • Brezina et al v. Chart (D. Minn. 2010) (order denying summary judgment for multiple employees where genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether these employees entered into valid settlement agreements with their former employer because they did not sign the agreements knowingly and voluntarily)
  • Harnan v. Univ. of St. Thomas, 776 F.Supp. 2d 938 (D. Minn. 2011) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim where genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether plaintiff suffered from a serious health condition and whether plaintiff was entitled to the benefits of the FMLA; and denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment for plaintiff’s FMLA retaliation claim where genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant’s proffered reason for termination was pretext for plaintiff’s termination)
  • Bahr v. Capella Univ., 788 N.W.2d 76 (Minn. 2010) (establishing that employee need not prove underlying merits of a discrimination/hostile environment to prove retaliation claim under the MHRA; the employee need only demonstrate that she had a good faith reasonable belief that conduct she opposed was a violation of the MHRA)
  • Adamson v. Mattamy Homes, No. 27-CV-13-2612 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Oct. 17, 2013) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim for age discrimination under the MHRA because genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether defendant’s reasons for termination were pretext where two younger employees replaced plaintiff after she was terminated)
  • Davis v. Hennepin Cty., 559 N.W.2d 117 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997) (establishing precedent that statutory immunity is not available as a defense to MHRA claims and reversing summary judgment in favor of plaintiff on her discrimination claim because a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding whether employee’s managers acted willfully or maliciously in responding to plaintiff’s complaint)
  • Schaich v. Int’l Seals, Inc., No. 27-CV-06-16894 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Sept. 12, 2007) (denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of retaliation under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant’s reason for terminating plaintiff was pretextual where the facts indicated defendant terminated plaintiff shortly after he refused to unload boxes containing dead animals because he believed it was unsafe to do so and voiced his opposition to defendant; subsequently, judgment entered for plaintiff following jury trial and award of damages)

Educational Background:

  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, B.A.

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