Being discriminated against in the workplace can be humiliating, stressful and can cause severe emotional distress. Because of this, both the state of Minnesota and the federal government have laws prohibiting workplace discrimination.
Per the Minnesota Human Rights Act, it is not legal for employers to commit discriminatory acts against employees based on a variety of factors, including the employee’s sex, marital status, religion, creed, color, national origin, race, sexual orientation, disability or age. When it comes to age discrimination, Minnesota law protects employees under 40 years old, which is important as federal law only protects workers over 40 years old. In addition, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, unlike federal law, applies to employers of all sizes.
In Minnesota, employees can file a discrimination claim in a number of ways. For example, they could file their claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the state Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR.) Both of these agencies have a “work-sharing agreement,” wherein they work in cooperation to process discrimination cases. It is not necessary for an employee to file a claim with both the EEOC and the MDHR at the same time; the employee just needs to specify which agency he or she wants to “cross-file” with the other one. In addition, if an employee wants to pursue a discrimination case in court, it is not necessary to first file a claim with the MDHR. Still, it might help to find out whether the MDHR can resolve your case out-of-court, which could save time, money and stress.
Keep in mind, however, that any claims filed with the MDHR must be submitted within 12 months of the discriminatory act, and any claims filed with the EEOC must be submitted within 300 days of the discriminatory act. Therefore, one should not put off filing a claim. You can be represented by an attorney when filing a claim, but it is not required.
No one should have to put up with discrimination in the workplace, but unfortunately it happens all too often. It is good to know, then, that there are laws against employment discrimination that protect workers and hold employers accountable.