Do You Have a Case?

A Guide to Employment Discrimination: Color

Why do you believe the discrimination happened because of your Color?

  1. Do you know someone of a different color who was treated better than you in the same situation? (For example, if you were disciplined for a certain behavior, were others of a different color not disciplined, even though they engaged in the same behavior?
  2. Were derogatory comments made about your color when the discrimination took place?
  3. Has your employer treated other coworkers of your color "badly," while treating those not of your color better in comparable situations? Can you cite specific examples?

NO, none of these sounds like my situation.

YES, at least one of these fits my situation.


Why are both race and color included in the Minnesota Human Rights Act?

A person may feel discriminated against because of the actual color of their skin – for example, an African American with a light complexion may get more favorable treatment than one who has very dark skin. And there are some ethnic groups that are considered Caucasian but who have darker skin than persons of European heritage.

Sometimes a person's national origin (their own country of birth or the origin of their ancestors) will be the claimed protected class factor, but color could still be an issue, for example, people from some parts of Asia may have different skin colors compared to those from other areas or ethnic heritage.

Why are these questions (about the reason for the discrimination) important?

The state Human Rights Act doesn't protect against unfair treatment that happened to a member of a protected class (such as a person of a certain race or sex) — unless that treatment happened because the person was a member of that protected class.

One way to help prove that the treatment happened because you are a member of a protected class is to show that other people who were of a different class (such as a different race or sex) weren't subjected to the same treatment.

But I know what happened and why... can't you take my word for it?

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is a neutral investigative agency. It's our job to impartially investigate charges of discrimination, and determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that the events a charging party alleges happened — and that they happened because of the charging party's protected class status.

Like any investigative agency, we look for evidence. The more specific information you can give us — including the names of witnesses — the better we can investigate your charge.