Tanick was admitted to the bar in 1974. In 1983, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided Pine River State Bank v. Mettile, holding that an employment handbook’s job security provisions could be enforced.
The next case, filed in1984, was the first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit in the U.S., Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company. The case settled in 1998 and $3.5 million was paid to the plaintiffs.
In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, where it recognized sexual harassment as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“If I wasn’t in on the ground floor I was pretty close,” Tanick said.
Tanick also practices in the areas of labor law and defamation. In 2019 the Minnesota Supreme Court found that the city of Brainerd had committed an unfair labor practice when it restructured its fire department to eliminate all union positions. The case is still going on, having been halted in part by COVID. In March, 9th Judicial District Judge Patricia Aanes ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to eight years of damages plus pre-verdict interest. The question of post-judgment verdict was reserved.
The case was a shot in the arm to labor lawyers and activists who have seen union membership decline to about 12% of the work force, Tanick said. Labor law is becoming a “little more fortified,” Tanick said, including better relationships with higher-up employees. He also pointed to a recent teachers’ strike and noted that the National Labor Relations Board has recognized that college athletes may be employees. “The labor unions are really interested,” he said.
Labor issues are different than they used to be, Tanick said. They include equity, health and safety. He’s had a number of COVID cases related to unions, Tanick noted.
Tanick also practices in defamation law. Currently he represents state Rep. John Lesch, who has been sued by St. Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson over a letter he wrote referring to her. The Supreme Court denied Lesch’s immunity claim and the case is in discovery. It is scheduled for trial in early 2023, at which time Lesch will prevail on the merits, Tanick said.
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