Employment Discrimination in Minnesota

This is a summary of employment discrimination laws in Minnesota and how employers can protect themselves.

In Minnesota, employees are protected from discrimination by both federal and state law. A discrimination claim requires that the employer has taken some adverse employment action against the employee because the employee belongs to a protected class. Even employees employed “at will” are protected from discrimination.

Protected Classes in Minnesota Employment Discrimination

Protected classes are groups of people with a common characteristic who cannot be targeted for discrimination because of that characteristic.

Under federal and Minnesota state law, protected classes include

  • race,
  • national origin,
  • age (40 and over),
  • gender,
  • familial status (can’t discriminate against someone for having children),
  • disability,
  • veteran, and
  • genetic information.

Sexual orientation is an additional protected class under Minnesota law (but not federal law).

Adverse Action by Employers

Adverse action is defined as an employers action that has “had some materially adverse impact on employee’s employment.” Coffman v. Tracker Marine, L.P., 141 F.3d 1241, 1245 (8th Cir. 1998).

Adverse action must have more than a tangential effect on an employee’s employment; mere inconvenience or unhappiness on the part of the employee is not actionable adverse employment action.

Examples of adverse action include actions such as

  • termination,
  • refusal to hire, and
  • denial of promotion.

Less commonly, courts have found adverse action where an employer effectuated

  • a change in taking of federal holidays,
  • exclusion from management meeting, and
  • a reduction in supervisory responsibility.

However, adverse actions do not include

  • petty slights and annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation,
  • snubbing an employee, or
  • negative comments that are justified by an employee’s poor work performance or history.

Minnesota Employment Attorney

Our employment attorneys represent employers and executives. If you are an employer or executive facing an employment discrimination issue, you are welcome to contact us to evaluate your situation.

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