Do You Have a Case?

A Guide to Employment Discrimination: Not Listed

You May Not have a Case

If a protected class characteristic was not the reason you experienced this treatment, it is unlikely that you experienced unlawful discrimination. To be illegal under the Human Rights Act, your employer's action must have happened BECAUSE of your "protected class status" — because of one of the reasons listed in the previous section.

You may wish to continue this guide for educational purposes by selecting one of the protected class reasons listed in the previous section.

If you would like to provide us with more information now, through this web site, you may fill out a complaint inquiry form.

FAQ about THe MN Human Rights Act

Are only certain kinds of people protected?

The Human Rights Act protects everyone in Minnesota. Everyone has a race and a sex, for example, and if they experience discrimination because of their race or sex, they are protected.

In some cases, you are protected under the Human Rights Act even if you don't have the particular characteristic at issue & if you are perceived as having that characteristic. If you are fired, or other adverse job action is taken, because your employer thinks you have a disability, that may be unlawful discrimination. The same is true if you face discrimination because someone believes you are gay (or not gay), no matter what your sexual orientation.

Isn't abusive, demeaning behavior a violation of my human rights?

The state Human Rights Act is rather specific; it prohibits discrimination involving certain "protected classes." It doesn't prohibit general unfairness or abusive behavior that is unrelated to a protected class.

Do you mean my employer can do anything he wants?

Employers have a great deal of discretion. Unless there is a contract that says otherwise, they can hire or fire an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all — as long is it's not a discriminatory reason involving a particular protected class. An employee, similarly, can generally quit at any time for any reason.

If my problem isn't one that's covered under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, do I have any other options?

The Human Rights Act isn't the only law protecting your rights in the workplace. Laws covering overtime, employee breaks, and workplace safety issues are enforced by the state Department of Labor and Industry. If you are concerned about those issues, you might contact them.

You can also hire a private attorney (which you can do whether or not you file a charge with the Department of Human Rights.) The Department, however, is unable to advise you in this matter.

Are there other agencies that investigate discrimination?

There are other agencies that investigate discrimination in employment, including the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), the Minneapolis Department of Civil rights and the St. Paul Human Rights Department (for cases within their jurisdictions). However, the laws they enforce are similar to the state Human Rights Act.

(You cannot file simultaneously with more than one agency. Employment charges filed with Department of Human Rights are automatically cross filed with the EEOC, and vice-versa, although only one agency investigates.)