Do You Have a Case?

A Guide to Employment Discrimination: National Origin

Why do you believe the discrimination happened because of your National Origin?

  1. Do you know someone of a different national origin 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 national origin not disciplined, even though they engaged in the same behavior?)
  2. Were derogatory comments made about your national origin when the discrimination took place?
  3. Has your employer treated other coworkers who are of your national origin "badly," while treating those with a different national origin 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.


If I am an undocumented worker, am I protected from discrimination?

Yes. The Minnesota Human Rights Act protects the rights of all people in Minnesota, whether or not they have documents proving they are eligible to work in the U.S.

If you are an undocumented worker, the department will investigate your charge of discrimination as it would any charge. And if we find probable cause to believe your employer violated the Human Rights Act, we may obtain a settlement on your behalf.

Should an employer ask if a person applying for a job is a U.S. citizen?

This is not a job-related question unless the job involved requires citizenship because of a state or federal law. An employer has a right, however, to ask if a job applicant is legally eligible to work in the United States.

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.