How Do I File A Claim?
How do I file a state claim with the Minnesota Department on Human Rights?
To first establish if you have a case, you can use the interactive guide to employment discrimination available on the Department's website.
How do I contact the Minnesota Department on Human Rights?
You may choose to contact the Department to discuss your situation and the possibility of filing a charge by phone at 651-296-5663 or 1-800-657-3704 (TTY: 651-296-1283). You may also email the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain information about next steps and request to be contacted by phone, email or letter by a professional at the Department.
Against whom can I file a claim?
You may have a claim against your employer, your harasser or officers of the business. Either a member of the Department of Human Rights staff or a private attorney can help you determine the party or parties to include as defendants in your case.
How long will the process take?
Under MHRA, the Department has up to one year to complete its investigation and make a determination on a charge. However, if at any time your case is referred to alternative dispute resolution, which is a form of mediation, the clock stops, and those efforts are not counted towards the year.
Do I need an attorney?
No. However, you may choose to file the charge through a private attorney instead of the Department. If you opt to do so, the charge must include the required questionnaire, which many attorneys already have in their offices. The Department website offers a how-to guide to aid attorneys through the process. However, you are not required to obtain your own counsel. The Department provides the filing service at no cost and will also supply a translator if you require it. Collectively, the staff is fluent in 14 languages.
Do I have to contact the Minnesota Department on Human Rights?
No. You may choose to file the charge through a private attorney instead of the Department.
Is the process different if I live in the Twin Cities?
If the discrimination happened in St. Paul or Minneapolis, you also have the option of filing with the St. Paul Human Rights Departmentor the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights instead of filing with this Department. You can choose whichever option is most convenient for you.
Who will investigate my complaint?
The Minnesota Department on Human Rights, a neutral state agency, investigates all charges of illegal discrimination.
What do I do after my initial contact with the Minnesota Department on Human Rights?
You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire giving more details about what happened. If your complaint indicates a possible violation of the Human Rights Act, a charge will be drafted for you to sign before a notary public. At this time, the Department will tell you whether your charge is a priority case. The priority does not reflect on the merits of a charge or the likely outcome of an investigation. According to state law, a case must be handled as soon as possible according to certain criteria.
What happens after I submit my claim?
A copy of the signed charge will be sent to the person or organization accused of the discrimination, along with a request for a response within 20 days. Based upon the response, if further investigation is warranted, the Department may interview witnesses and otherwise attempt to determine if discrimination occurred ("probable cause").
What happens if the investigators determine that no "reasonable" or "probable" cause exists on which to base a claim?
The Commissioner can dismiss cases without deciding whether there has been a violation. If your case is dismissed, the Department will tell you the reason in writing. You can still file a suit using a private attorney, as long as you file the suit within 45 days of receiving the commissioner's letter.
What happens if the investigator determines that "reasonable" or "probable" cause exists on which to base a claim?
If the Commissioner of Human Rights decides there is good reason to believe discrimination occurred, the Department will refer the case to the Minnesota State Attorney General's Office for further action. The Department always seeks to keep the matter out of court and encourages a negotiated settlement between the parties. If this is not possible, then there will be a hearing in front of a judge to determine if unlawful discriminatory practice occurred and damages may be awarded at this time.
What is a "right to sue" letter?
This is the letter that would be sent to you if your discrimination claim has been dismissed. From the time you receive the letter, if you choose to do so, you have 45 days to file a civil suit with a private attorney.
Can I appeal a decision of the Commission?
Yes. Within ten days of the notice of the decision, you can appeal a no probable cause determination or request reconsideration of a dismissal decision. The Commissioner will review the prior decision within 20 days after receipt of the request. Within ten days of that decision, the commissioner will notify in writing the charging party and respondent of the judgment.
Can I file a federal claim of employment discrimination as well? If so, how?
If your charge involves federal laws, it may be filed at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If your charge is eligible, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will automatically cross file it with the EEOC.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of filing a federal claim over a state claim?
There are three main reasons to pursue a state claim: 1) The state offers a more flexible timeline - 1 year to report as compared to 300 days at the EEOC; 2) State law covers employers of any size -- federal law only covers employers with 15 or more employees; and 3) The state allows for greater damage recovery, not only because Title VII has caps based on workforce size, as compared to MHRA which allows for up to three times the actual damages sustained, but also because employees can be held personally liable.
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