RIGHTS BLOG: Updates from the Department of Human Rights

Department of Human Rights Releases Report on Investigations from July through December 2015

Posted on 2/4/16

In the Department of Human Rights’ newly released report examining the Department’s investigations for the second half of 2015, we continue to see gains in our multi-year effort to improve the effectiveness of the Department’s investigation process and speed up investigations.

These gains are helping Minnesotans facing discrimination receive a timely investigation of their complaints and justice if they have been discriminated against. As we confront statewide issues of discrimination and disparities, it is imperative that effective enforcement of civil rights laws is part of the effort to address serious issues that threaten Minnesota’s communities and future prosperity.

The Department’s average time to reach a determination during this period was 254 days. This is a decrease of 73 days from the end of 2014 and is part of a steady downward trend over the past several years. MDHR now only has 18 cases older than one year compared to 228 cases older than one year as of June 2012. This is a 92% reduction.

In the past six months we have seen an increase in the number of charges filed with the Department — from 284 in the first half of 2015 to 336 in the latter half of the year covered by this report. We believe this is reflective of a growing confidence in the Department’s timeliness and effectiveness in resolving cases. We encourage individuals who believe they have been discriminated against to contact the Department.

With an increase in the number of charges filed the Department’s inventory of cases has risen modestly to 472 cases from 390 cases at the end of June 2015. This is still far lower than prior levels. At the end of December 2012, the Department had 842 cases in its inventory in comparison to the 472 cases in the inventory at the end of December 2015; this is a 44% reduction in 3 years.

The Department has made great strides over the past several years through process improvements and the efforts of staff. This has all been done without the prior administration’s practice of dismissing cases without investigation, thereby denying people a review of their concerns. This has all been accomplished with 15 fewer staff members than the Department had in 1996, when the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report showed the Department with 56 full-time employees. To continue to make progress, to help Minnesota move forward, we must invest resources in the Department’s work.