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Employment Discrimination

Employers cannot discriminate against you because of your race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, public assistance, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, or local human rights commission activity. 
 
Labor organizations, employers, and employment agencies cannot refuse to interview or hire someone, deny opportunities for training or promotion, create or allow a hostile working environment to exist, refuse to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability, terminate the employment of an individual, or seek or gather information about a job applicant’s protected class status for the purpose of making an employment decision. 

Examples 

  • A company gives pay raises only to its white employees, even though employees of other races and skin colors have the same training and experience.
  • A construction company denies interviews to women because it does not want to hire women to fill positions traditionally held by men.
  • An employment agency refers white applicants to the highest paying jobs because they are white, Black, Indigenous, and people of color are referred to lower paying jobs.
  • An employee's co-workers harass them with racial slurs and post racially offensive symbols and images in the workplace. This happens every week. The employer knows about it but does nothing.
  • A company fires an employee because she becomes pregnant.
  • A supervisor denies promotions to certain employees because they have disabilities.
  • An employer demotes older workers to jobs that pay less because of their age; they are "too old to learn new things."
  • An employer does not compensate a particular group of employees for overtime work because of the group's national origin; all other employees get paid time and a half for the extra hours they work.

Protections During COVID-19 

Employees are protected by a number of state and federal laws. These protections and employers’ legal obligations are discussed in more detail in the fact sheets below. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What questions can an employer ask me during a job interview?

Generally, an employer cannot ask you questions that will make you give answers about any protected class you belong to. Questions about your race, your age, if you are married or not, or any other protected class are generally not allowed. If the job you are applying for has specific needs for age, physical ability, or other things, then the employer may ask about those specific things.
 

Here are some questions that may reveal protected class status:

  • You speak with an accent, where are you from? (This question could make you give information about your national origin or race).
  • How old are you? When did you graduate? (Age).
  • Do you have a disability? When did you become disabled? Are you on any medications? (Disability).
  • Are you married? What does your spouse do? (Marital status)
  • Are you pregnant? Do you plan on starting a family soon? (Sex)
  • How many children do you have? How old are your children? (Familial status)
  • Are you a U.S. citizen? 
 

Can I be fired for filing a discrimination charge against my employer?

It is illegal for your employer to punish you for filing a discrimination charge. This kind of revengeful punishment is called "reprisal." You could file a separate charge of discrimination against your employer if they punish you for filing the first charge.
 

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 the legal right to work in the United States.
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