Where and How to File a Workplace Discrimination Claim in Minnesota

If you have experienced workplace discrimination in Minnesota, you deserve support to resolve the situation. Often, victims feel overwhelmed and unsupported after they’ve been discriminated against in the workplace. Sometimes, victims of discrimination feel like they don’t have many options other than staying quiet and ignoring the hostile work environment.

Thankfully, there are legal avenues to pursue when you’ve experienced workplace discrimination. However, it can be daunting to navigate the Minnesota legal system by yourself, so that’s where MSB Employment Justice comes in. Our legal advocates stay by your side to help you reach the best possible outcome. Let’s start by guiding you through filing a workplace discrimination claim in Minnesota. 

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination occurs when employees are treated less favorably than others based on personal attributes they can’t change. Discrimination can take the form of actions, language, or behavior that purposefully excludes a particular employee or group of employees. The most common forms of discrimination occur against race, gender, and age. However, the Minnesota Human Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people in the workplace based on any of the following characteristics:

  • Race, Ethnicity, or Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Familial Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Political Affiliation
  • Mental Illness
  • Pregnancy

Even with the Minnesota Human Rights Act in place, workplace discrimination still occurs today. Supervisors, business owners, and coworkers can demonstrate harmful, discriminatory behaviors. Unfair bias can show up in obvious ways, like using racial or gendered slurs. However, discrimination can often happen discreetly. Discrimination can look like any of these examples:

  • Racially offensive images are posted in the workplace.
  • Women are denied interviews for positions traditionally held by men.
  • A woman is fired if she becomes pregnant.
  • Employees of a particular national origin are denied benefits that all other employees receive.
  • Minority groups are not considered for promotions.
  • Disabled employees are denied accommodation. 
  • Chronically ill employees are denied sick leave.

These situations can apply to any protected class, as discriminatory actions are often not exclusive to one particular group. If you have experienced discrimination based on your sexual orientation, race, age, or any other protected characteristic, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Legal avenues are available for you to pursue. 

How to File a Claim in Minnesota

Whether you are seeking an apology, statement of responsibility, or monetary reparations from your workplace, an empathetic legal advocate at MSB Employment Justice can help you file a claim. There are two agencies you can file a workplace discrimination claim with. They are:

  1. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR)
  2. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Both agencies participate in a “work-sharing agreement,” which allows them to cooperate together to process claims. You do not need to file a claim with both agencies; instead, indicate one agency you wish to “cross-file” with the other. Since the EEOC enforces federal law, it only covers workplaces with 15 or more employees. If your workplace has less than 15 employees, you may wish to file with the MDHR. 

You can fill out an online complaint form for the MDHR, but the EEOC requires claims to be filed in person, by mail, or by telephone with the nearest EEOC office to you

Some cities and counties in Minnesota have local anti-discrimination ordinances in place, and local agencies can further assist you. For example, the following Minnesota cities and counties have such laws in place: 

  • City of Minneapolis
  • City of St. Paul
  • Ramsey County
  • Hennepin County

For your complaint to be as effective as possible, it is wise to work with a workplace discrimination attorney. An attorney will help you draft a powerful complaint that covers the actions you believe violated the law. This will ensure that your claim is thoroughly investigated. In addition, working with an attorney increases your chances of being given the right to sue for your claims. Workplace discrimination cases are often challenging to prove, and attempting to settle them without an attorney can put you at a significant disadvantage against your employer.

Are There Time Deadlines?

It is always best to file a claim as soon as possible after you experience workplace discrimination. In fact, there are strict deadlines when it comes to filing a complaint with the MDHR or EEOC. You must file with the EEOC within 300 days or the MDHR within one year of the discriminatory incident.

The best practice is to find an attorney as soon as possible, so you don’t submit your claim at the last minute. A skilled attorney may point out other legal claims you can file with your case, and some may have tighter deadlines. 

At MSB Employment Justice, we understand that the decision to file a discrimination claim is not something you take lightly. Even though it is best to file as soon as possible, we understand if you need to take your time. We will gladly work with you on your case if you reach out to us at any point before the state or federal deadline. 

What Happens After Filing a Claim?

After you file a claim in Minnesota, you will receive a copy of your charge and charge number from the EEOC. Within ten days, the EEOC will notify your employer of the charge. After filing, you can check the status of your claim online. Additionally, you will be able to exchange documents and communicate with agents from the EEOC.

Once your employer has been notified of the claim, the EEOC may decide to:

  • Ask your employer to provide a written answer to your charge, which will then be given to an investigator.
  • Ask you and your employer to participate in a mediation program.
  • Dismiss your claim if it was not filed in time or if the EEOC does not have authority over your particular case.

If the EEOC ultimately decides to investigate your case, they may gather more documents and speak to witnesses. On average, workplace discrimination charges take six months to investigate. Upon completion, they will let you and your employer know the outcome. If the EEOC determines that discrimination occurred, they will attempt to reach a voluntary settlement with your employer. 

If the EEOC finds that no discrimination occurred, they will give you a “Notice of Right to Sue,” which allows you to file a lawsuit in court. The same notice will be given if a settlement cannot be reached with your employer and the EEOC decides not to file a lawsuit.

Secure Legal Support Today

The process of filing a workplace discrimination claim can be complex, and it is even more daunting if you attempt to do it by yourself. Instead, take the confusion and intimidation out of the legal process by working with an empathetic attorney at MSB Employment Justice. Our caring attorneys have helped numerous people file workplace discrimination claims in Minnesota. If you’re ready to receive the treatment you deserve, contact us today to schedule a free consultation

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Bree Johnson

After more than a decade in the legal industry and BigLaw firms, attorney and activist Bree Johnson saw an opportunity to do more for employees who are mistreated in the workplace with a career move to representing employees and plaintiffs. See Full Bio

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