The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state agency within the Governor’s Cabinet responsible for enforcing the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act is a state law prohibiting discrimination in Minnesota.
Every person in Minnesota is protected by the Human Rights Act because every person, based on their personal characteristics such as a person’s race or sex, belongs to one or more of the protected classes below:
- National Origin
- Marital Satus
- Familial Status
- Public Assistance Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Local Human Rights Commission Activity
Does that mean that only some people — and not others — are protected by the Human Rights Act?
No: the Human Rights Act protects everyone in Minnesota, because everyone has a race, sex, and many of the other characteristics that are covered.
What is Illegal Discrimination?
The most common form of unlawful discrimination occurs when people are treated differently because of a protected characteristic. This type of discrimination is bias based on stereotype or intentional discrimination. For example, an employer fires Jayne but does not fire Paul after both employees miss work on Monday.
If the employer fired Jayne because of a belief that as a woman she will miss work more often than its male employees because women have childcare responsibilities, the decision by the employer is a form of discrimination called disparate treatment.
Another common form of unlawful discrimination occurs when a neutral policy or practice adversely impacts people of a protected class more than other classes or unequally. This is called disparate impact discrimination. For example, an employer decides that for certain positions in its company that it will only hire employees who have a college degree.
As earning a college degree varies among different protected groups, the decision of the employer to require a college degree may amount to disparate impact discrimination if the employer can’t demonstrate a business need for requiring job applicants to have a college degree.
Examples of the most common allegations of discrimination
The Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the following areas: business, credit, education, employment, housing, public accommodations, and public services. Learn more about the most common allegations of discrimination in these areas.
View the Jurisdiction Chart which outlines the Minnesota Human Rights Act coverage. The chart shows the characteristics that are protected in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, public services, education, credit services, and in business contracts.
Minnesota Human Rights Act
This section provides links to the individual sections of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minnesota Statute, Chapter 363A.
The Role of this Department
MDHR receives complaints of discrimination and conducts investigations. We act as a neutral enforcement agency when investigating charges of discrimination until “probable cause” is established. Then, we attempt to negotiate settlement. If unsuccessful, we may refer matter to office of Minnesota attorney general for litigation. Find out more about our Complaint Handling Process here.
Contact Information: You can find our contact information here.