Federal Laws

Federal Laws that Prohibit Employment Discrimination

There are several federal laws that provide similar protections in employment as the Minnesota Human Rights Act. It is important for employers to comply with both state and federal laws.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII applies only to employers with 15 or more employees working 20 or more weeks a year.

Title VII does not protect creed, martial status, public assistance, sexual orientation or human rights commission activity as the MHRA does; in addition, the MHRA covers all employers in Minnesota, even those with only one employee.

Charges filed under Title VII provisions must be filed within 300 days of the date the alleged discrimination occurred — the MHRA allows one year.

The Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAA)

The ADAA prohibits disability discrimination in employment in the private sector and requires employers with 15 or more employees working 20 or more weeks per year to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with a known disability. Federal employees and applicants are covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instead of the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended. The protections are mostly the same.

Definition of "disability"

Employers should keep in mind that they have to comply with both state and federal laws and that there are some differences in how these laws define "disability."

To be considered "disabled" under the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAA), the employee must: have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; or have a record of such impairment, or be regarded or perceived by the covered entity (i.e., employer) as having an impairment.

The MHRA defines disability similarly, except that it qualifies the condition of disability to mean that it "materially" limits a person's major life activity, instead of the ADAA's requirement that it "substantially" limit. That lower threshold could presumably allow some conditions that might not be considered disabilities under federal law to be covered under the state's Act.

Reasonable accommodations

Both the ADAA and the MHRA require employers with 15 or more employees working 20 or more weeks per year to make reasonable accommodations to the known disability of a qualified disabled person unless it can be demonstrated that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship.

ADA and ADAAA Links

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)

The ADEA protects employees who are 40 years of age and older from age discrimination. The time limit for filing an age discrimination claim with EEOC is 180 days.

The MHRA protects employees who are 18 years of age and older from age discrimination. The time limit for filing a complaint with MDHR is one year.