What Does The Law Say?


Where is the law regarding sex discrimination in employment in Minnesota found?


The law in Minnesota regarding sex discrimination is the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA makes employment discrimination on the basis of sex illegal. It also covers employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, disability, sexual orientation, and age.


To whom does the MHRA apply?


The MHRA specifically prohibits employment discrimination by employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies.


What is illegal under the MHRA?


It is illegal for employers to deny employment, discharge, or discriminate with respect to hiring, tenure, compensation, terms, promoting, working conditions, facilities or privileges of employment, on the basis of sex. These provisions of the MHRA also apply to labor organizations and employment agencies.


What is sex or gender discrimination?


Sex or gender discrimination is treating employees differently because of sex. This includes being treated adversely with respect to: hiring, firing, promotion, pay, benefits, and job classification.


What constitutes sex or gender discrimination under Minnesota Law?


Under Minnesota law, it is illegal for employers to deny employment on the basis of sex, to discharge an employee on the basis of sex, or to discriminate with respect to hiring, apprenticeship, tenure, compensation, terms, upgrading, conditions, facilities, or privileges of employment on the basis of sex.


What is an "employee" under this law?


An "employee" is defined as an individual who is employed by an employer and lives or works in the state. This includes commissioned salespeople, who are independent contractors.


What is an "employer" under this law?


An "employer" is a person who has one or more employees.


Are women a "protected class"?


Yes, women are a protected class.


Is there a federal law about sex discrimination?


Yes. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. The Equal Pay Act prohibits discrimination in terms of salaries and wages. See Federal Law pages.


How does the state law compare with federal in terms of coverage?


The main difference between Federal law and Minnesota law is that Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and Minnesota applies to employers with any number of employees.


Is it ever okay for my employer to treat or impact women differently because of their sex?


Yes, there are some circumstances where it is legal for your employer to treat women differently. If there is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory motive for certain treatments or employment practices, then you may not be able to bring a discrimination claim against your employer. For example, if there is a bona fide occupational qualification (in which gender is a necessary qualification for a given job) as a reason for the employer's decision, then the differential treatment or impact would be legal.


In a nutshell, what must I prove to win my case?


You must first show several elements of evidence, known as a "prima facie case," which varies depending on the type of claim you bring. Generally, you must show that your employer discriminated against you in the workplace in some way, shape or form. Your employer will have an opportunity to deny or justify the discriminatory action. Ultimately, you must provide evidence that your employer's justification is actually a pretext or a cover-up for the real discrimination.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


Yes, you must file a claim within a year of when the last incident of discrimination occurred. If it occurred more than 365 days ago, then the statute of limitations (the time limit you have to file a claim) has run, and the Minnesota Department of Human Rightscannot investigate your claim. You are, of course, free to pursue other alternatives, such as contacting your own attorney, if the MDHR cannot pursue your claim.


Who enforces the law?


Your local human rights commission, which is the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, enforces Minnesota state law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal anti-discrimination laws.


How do I file a claim of sex discrimination with


Minnesota Department of Human Rights?


Click here for "How do I file a claim?"


If I prove my sex discrimination claim, what kind of remedies am I entitled to?


Click here for "What can I get if I win?"


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