Foley & Mansfield
Foley & Mansfield

Thomas A. Harder

Partner - Minneapolis


Bar Admissions: Minnesota; Wisconsin; U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit; U.S. District Court, Minnesota

Practice Groups: Commercial Litigation, Employment Law & Litigation, Professional Liability Defense

Education: Hamline University School of Law, 1984, JD - cum laude; Hamline University, BS, Economics - National Merit Scholarship

Memberships: American Bar Association; Defense Research Institute (DRI); Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association; Minnesota State Bar Association; Wisconsin State Bar Association


Tom Harder is a partner in Foley & Mansfield's Minneapolis office. Tom’s practice is focused on complex workplace issues encompassing a full array of employment litigation and counseling services. He also has an active professional liability defense practice.

Tom brings nearly 30 years of legal experience to the firm’s Employment Law Practice Group, bolstered by practical experience overseeing the firm’s internal employment, insurance liability and risk management functions on a national basis. His clients range from small to midsize businesses to municipalities, schools and nursing homes.

Tom has a deep knowledge of employment law and extensive experience evaluating, investigating and litigating workplace and premises misconduct – including sexual misconduct and assault. He has handled discrimination claims involving all protected classes, Section 1981 and Section 1983 public entities and civil rights litigation, and he possesses a solid and thorough understanding of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI ), having represented insured employers since the inception of such coverage. His employment practice also includes the representation of clients in defamation, trade secret and non-compete disputes.

In the area of professional liability, D&O and E&O claims, Tom works with a distinct list of professionals -representing them directly, or through appointment as defense counsel by their insurance carriers. From simple negligence to complex malpractice, he approaches each matter with the appropriate consideration for sensitive confidentiality issues and the impact on a professional's career.

Tom has extensive trial and appellate experience in state and federal courts, and has successfully argued several landmark employment cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court. He also routinely represents employers before local, state and federal civil rights agencies and commissions.

As a counselor, Tom assists clients in developing sound strategies, processes and methods to avoid or reduce future employment-related and liability claims, and provides in-house counseling and training on employment and personnel matters.

Tom has been a frequent guest lecturer on employment issues for the Minnesota Institute of Legal Education and the American Academy of Trial Lawyers. He is an avid outdoorsman and member of Pheasants Forever.

Foley & Mansfield attracts creative, hard-working attorneys who provide clients with high quality, honest legal representation.


  • LaMont v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 728814 N.W.2d 14 (Minn. 2012).  In a case of first impression, the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that a claim of sexual harassment can be a viable claim, even if the behavior is not sexual in nature, if it is based upon sex.  However, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal on summary judgment by the District Court and by the Court of Appeals on the basis that the conduct alleged was not sufficiently severe or pervasive as to constitute a hostile environment.
  • Bahr v. Capella Univ.788 N.W.2d 76 (Minn. 2010).  In a case of first impression, the Minnesota Supreme Court considered whether a Minnesota Human Rights Act retaliation claim required a report of an act prohibited by the Minnesota Human Rights Act, or simply a report of an action that the employee reasonably believed to be in violation of the Human Rights Act.  The Supreme Court held that the employee could not have had a reasonable belief that the reported action was in violation of the Human Rights Act.  Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, and affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, on the basis that that Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
  • Folstad v. Eder 467 N.W.2d 608 (Minn. 1991).   On a case of first impression, the Supreme Court affirmed a “reverse Naig” settlement noting that “In this case, Defendant’s Counsel [was] operating in unchartered waters…”
  • Bush v. City of Lakefield, 399 N.W.2d 169 (Minn. Ct. App. 1987).  The Court of Appeals affirmed a Rule 12 dismissal of Plaintiff’s statutory claim for reimbursement of attorney’s fees against his employer.
  • Denoto v. Sears Imported Autos, Inc., No. A11-1355, 2012 WL 1149350 (Minn. Ct. App. Apr. 9, 2012).  In this case, the Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment motion dismissing Plaintiff’s claim of common law whistle blowing, adopting Defendant’s argument that Plaintiff had not established a clear violation of public policy. 
  • Jansen v. Franciscan Health Cmty., No. A10-1021, 2010 WL 5071409 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 14, 2010).  In this case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim under the Minnesota “Equalization” statute – affirming that a nursing home can charge a higher rate for a private room, notwithstanding the Minnesota Equalization law – Minn. Stat. § 256b.48.
  • Nelson v. Pinnacle Eng'g Inc., No. A09-2114, 2010 WL 3306919 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 24, 2010).  In this case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the department’s denial of Plaintiff’s claim for benefits, affirming that Plaintiff did not have good cause to quit her job when her pay was adjusted based upon time away from work for lactation purposes.
  • White v. City of N. Branch, No. C3-95-1437, 1995 WL 731340 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 12, 1995).  In this case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s summary dismissal of Plaintiff’s employment claim based upon the fact that she had made fraudulent representations in her resume and job application. 
  • Music Cafes, Inc. v. City of Edina, 99 F.3d 288, 288 (8th Cir. 1996).  Affirmed a District Court dismissal of Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim, in which Plaintiff alleged they were denied a permit to hold public dances based upon racial prejudices.
  • Dixon v. Mount Olivet Careview Home, No. CIV. 09-1099 (MJD/AJB), 2010 WL 3733936 (D. Minn. Sept. 17, 2010).  The District Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims in part.  The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s state disability and discrimination claims, determining that Plaintiff was not disabled, as a matter of law.  The Court further dismissed Plaintiff’s human rights retaliation claim adopting the argument that Defendant had no reason to know of Plaintiff’s complaint to the Human Rights Department, thereby foreclosing a retaliation claim.
  • Barrett v. Inver Grove Motors, LLC, No. CIV 07-2165 (RHK/JSM), 2008 WL 4057641 (D. Minn. Aug. 26, 2008).  The District Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s race discrimination claim holding that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence that Defendant’s stated reason for termination was pretextual. 
  • Carlsen v. Green Thumb, Inc., No. CIV. 01-2076JRTRLE, 2004 WL 234406 (D. Minn. Feb. 4, 2004).  In this case, the District Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s state disability discrimination claim.  The Court held that Plaintiff was not disabled, as a matter of law, and that in any event, Defendant had established a legitimate business reason for Plaintiff’s termination.

    January 25, 2017
    Thomas Harder Successfully Defends Private School Against Contractual, Tort Claims

    Following a four-day bench trial, Foley & Mansfield attorney Thomas Harder obtained a defense verdict in Carver County, Minnesota on behalf of an co-educational private high school and its employee.


    June 21, 2016
    Harder Successfully Defends Employment Lawsuit

    Thomas Harder, a partner with the Minneapolis office of Foley & Mansfield, recently obtained a dismissal on summary judgment of an employment lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.


    July 1, 2015
    Harder Prevails in HOA Dispute

    Foley & Mansfield partner Thomas A. Harder won a victory for the defense in a long running dispute between his client, a Minnesota homeowner’s association, and plaintiff, an adjoining retail association.



    • Rated AV® Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell®
    • Super Lawyers® list by Minnesota Law & Politics Magazine


    • Spoliation of Evidence - A Cautionary Tale View/Listen
      Tom Harder provides a cautionary tale to employers about the importance of saving interview notes in this blog post.