Minnesota Civil Rights Law

This article is an overview of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The reader will learn about protected areas covered by this law and what actions are deemed unlawful. When the concept of civil rights is brought up, most people tend to think of broad, historical events like the civil rights movement, women's suffrage, and the Rodney King riots.

While these, and other, events are significant and have helped shape the nation and spark changes in laws and policy, issues involving civil rights, and the violation of those rights, occur every single day and can affect anyone.

In Minnesota, a comprehensive law, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, protects the civil rights of residents and deems specific types of discriminatory practices to be unlawful. The act defines 13 protected classes and prohibits discrimination based on any one or any combination of these traits. These protected classes are race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, marital status, familial status, age, sexual orientation, public assistance, and local human rights commission activity.

Not every differential or unfair act is against the law, however. The Minnesota Human Rights Act also explicitly defines the areas in which discrimination is illegal. These protected areas include housing, employment, education, business, credit, public accommodations, and public service. Public accommodations include businesses that are generally open to the public such as restaurants, theaters, and grocery stores; while public services include public transportation, parks, and libraries.

When faced with a civil rights violation in Minnesota, victims of discrimination may not know what to do or where to turn for help. It is important to document the date of the incident, all the people involved, and contact information of anyone who witness the events. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has a wealth of online resources as well as form for filing a complaint. Be advised, there is a time limit to file a complaint with the MDHR of one year from the date of the incident. A Minnesota civil rights lawyer can also help inform you of your rights and help you decide if you can or should seek legal action.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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