Employment Discrimination in MN: How to File a Claim

Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) (Minn. Stat. 363A.08).

The MHRA applies to all employers of one or more employees. Under the Act, no employer, labor organization, or employment agency can unfairly deny employment, membership, or referral for employment. Under the Act, anyone who aids or abets a violation, obstructs compliance, or retaliates against a person seeking enforcement, is in violation of the Act. Also, it is illegal to force disclosure of a medical condition, disability, or other protected characteristics as a condition of employment. In fact, any unequal treatment based on a protected characteristic is illegal. The protected characteristics are: race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, status with regard to public assistance, disability and age.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC was created by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex. It applies only to employers of fifteen or more employees whose business is involved, directly or indirectly, in interstate commerce (this covers the great majority of employers). The EEOC also enforces laws making it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women, discriminate against people forty or older because of their age, discriminate against the disabled, discriminate based on genetic information (diseases, disorders, or medical history), and pay different wages to men and women who perform equal work in the same workplace. Title VII permits jury trials and compensatory and punitive damage awards.

Filing a claim

If you feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic, you must file a discrimination claim with either the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The statute of limitations for MDHR is one year, and the statute of limitations for the EEOC is 300 days after the date of the discrimination. Courts will not hear a claim of discrimination under the EEOA or the MHRA until after one of these administrative bodies has considered the case. This is called the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies.

The EEOC requires all claimants to file a charge with their Minnesota field office before they file their lawsuit. After an investigation, they will either dismiss the claim or give you a “Notice-of-Right-to-Sue” which gives you leave to file your lawsuit within ninety days. The EEOC files their own employment discrimination lawsuits in select cases where they feel it will give them a wide impact on their efforts to combat workplace discrimination.

The MDHR requires all claimants to file a complaint inquiry form. If they discern that you have a claim under the MHRA, they will send you a “charge of discrimination” for you to sign. It must be filed within one year from the date of the discrimination.