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Discrimination in Government Services

A government entity cannot discriminate against you because of your race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or public assistance. 
 
A city, county, town, township, public agency or board, and other government entities cannot refuse to provide or limit access to services for certain individuals or refuse to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability because of their protected class. 
 
Government services are referred to as public services in the Minnesota Human Rights Act. 

Examples 

  • City inspectors punish people of color and Indigenous people more severely for city code violations than they do for white people.
  • A county healthcare service does not provide a language interpreter for someone with limited English speaking ability, even though that person repeatedly asked for an interpreter.
  • A person is the target of racial profiling. Racial profiling happens when police use race, color and/or national origin as the only reason to suspect a person has done something illegal.
  • Police arrest a deaf man and refuse to provide an interpreter to allow him to communicate with them.

Frequently Asked Questions 

I am a disabled person who wishes to attend functions held at the city hall, but no access has been provided for people in wheelchairs. What can be done about this?

Unless a government service can demonstrate that ensuring such access would impose an undue hardship on its operation, access for disabled persons must be provided.
 

Can your department investigate my complaint against the police?

The Department of Human Rights does investigate complaints against police departments, but only those related to treatment based on the categories protected by the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
 

I've been subjected to unjust decisions made by a judge in my court case and I believe a personal characteristic protected by the law was involved. Will you investigate my complaint?

No. The Department has no jurisdiction over decisions made in courts.
 

The Social Services Department reduced my monthly grant and I don't think it was fair. Can I file a complaint with your department?

That depends on whether you believe that your membership in a protected class was a factor in the treatment you received. If you believe it was, you may have grounds to file a complaint. You may also want to contact the Social Services Department about their appeals procedures.
 

If I'm seeking a driver's license or another service provided by the state or local government, is it a violation of the Human Rights Act for them to inquire about my immigration status?

To inquire about one's immigration status is likely to elicit information about national origin, a protected class under the Human Rights Act. If such questions are asked only of those who appear to be of a certain national origin and not of others, such a practice would also violate the Act. A public servant may ask questions designed to determine if the individual seeking public service is eligible for that service, however.
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