Employment Discrimination in the Minnesota Workplace
There are many different categories of employment discrimination in Minnesota and discrimination can take many shapes and forms. In Minnesota, it is illegal to discriminate against employees and job applicants for the following reasons:
- Race, color, national origin discrimination: In Minnesota, it is illegal and wrong for employers to discriminate against employees because of their race, skin color, or national origin. As such, under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), it is unlawful for Minnesota employers to treat employees differently because they are of a different race or because of the country or world geographic region the employee or their family originated from. It is also illegal under Minnesota’s anti-discrimination laws to create a hostile work environment because of a person’s race or national origin. For more on race discrimination , please see the following link.
- Religious Discrimination: Minnesota laws also make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of their religion, religious beliefs, or religious practices. Further, under Minnesota law, employers have an obligation to offer a reasonable accommodation relating to an employee’s religious practices. What constitutes a reasonable accommodation can depend on the job and the impact the employee’s requested accommodation would have on the employer. There have been many cases litigated throughout the country regarding what a reasonable accommodation for religious practices can entail. For more on religious discrimination see the following page.
- Sex Discrimination: Sex discrimination or discrimination based upon an employee’s gender is illegal in Minnesota. The Minnesota Human Rights Act, Title VII and other laws make it illegal to discriminate against employees because of their sex or gender in Minnesota. In Minnesota, sexual harassment, is considered a form of sex discrimination and is also illegal. Gender discrimination can take many forms, but frequently is found in pay discrepancies between genders, gender stereotypes related to job duties or positions, or applying other prejudices to employees or job applicants based upon their gender. In Minnesota, males, females, and individuals with a gender identity that is different than their biological identity are all protected by the Minnesota Human Rights Act against gender discrimination. For more on gender discrimination, please see the following link.
- Marital Status Discrimination: It is illegal under Minnesota state law for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of their marital status. Although there are many situations in which marital discrimination could occur, Marital discrimination has occurred in the past when both spouses work for the same employer and the employer terminates one spouse for performance reasons and decides to terminate the other spouse simply because of their relationship to the terminated spouse. This type of marital discrimination is illegal because the only reason the second spouse was fired was they were simply married to the other spouse. In the wake of Minnesota’s legalization and recognition of gay marriages, it is foreseeable that an employer could be held liable if it refuses to recognize an employee’s same sex marriage or discriminates against the employee for being in a same sex marriage.
- Public Assistance Discrimination. In Minnesota it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because they receive a type of public assistance. Thus, if you are on Welfare, Social Security, Disability, Public Assistance, WIC, or receive food stamps or other state subsidized benefits, it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you on those grounds. While most of these programs are designed to be confidential, frequently when you apply for or receive a new job, certain programs can require employer verification or information to determine eligibility and benefits. If your employer learns of your public assistance and terminates you or discriminates against you because of it, it is illegal and could be the basis for a lawsuit.
- Familal Status Discrimination. The meaning of the word “family” has been changing in Minnesota and throughout the country over the last several decades. It is now common for same-sex couples to raise children, for grandparents to raise children, and for single mothers or single fathers to raise their own children. Additionally, financial pressures have made it more frequent for grown children to move in with their parents or to care for a parent with a disability or who is of advanced age. Who you love and who you consider your “family” is no one’s business, but your own. If your employer is discriminating against you because of your family situation, such discrimination can be illegal. There can be all different types of familial discrimination. Some of the most frequent familial status discrimination acts include refusing to provide a promotion to an individual on the assumption that they won’t be able to handle the additional work because of their parenting needs or terminating an employee after learning that the employee or her spouse is pregnant.
- Disability Discrimination It is illegal under Minnesota law and federal law for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of a disability or a perceived disability unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification for the job that the employee’s disability impedes them from doing. Under both state and federal law, an employer must attempt to offer a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability. If an employer does not offer a reasonable accommodation or terminates an employee because of their disability or perceived disability, they can be found liable for violating state and federal disability laws. For more information on disability discrimination and what constitutes a “disability” under the law, please see the following page.
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination: In Minnesota it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of that employee’s sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees are considered a protected class under Minnesota’s Human Rights Act(MHRA). For more information on sexual orientation discrimination in the Minnesota workplace and retaliation against gay, lesbian, bisexual individuals, please see the following link.
- Age Discrimination. Both Minnesota law and federal law prohibit discrimination in the workplace because of an individual’s age. Under Minnesota law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on age if the employee is 25 or older. The federal law, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person who is age 40 or older. (ADEA). For more information on Age Discrimination in the Minnesota workplace, please see the following link.
If you have been the victim of employment discrimination, you may be entitled to compensation including front pay, back pay, emotional harm damages and punitive damages.
If you believe that you have been the victim of employment discrimination, contact Kuhlman Law, PLLC today. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to compensation based upon your employer’s conduct. There are statutes of limitations which apply to discrimination claims and if you do not file a claim within a certain time period you can lose your ability to bring your case.
To learn more and schedule a free consultation with a Minneapolis Minnesota Employee Rights Lawyer, call (612) 349-2747.