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Joshua Newville, Minnesota Employment Lawyer, Civil Rights Attorney, and Mediator

Employees should be able to go to their job each day feeling safe and comfortable in their own skin. Good employers do their best to make this happen. When employment discrimination becomes a problem, legal intervention is often necessary. 

MN Mediator and Investigator for Employment Discrimination Cases

As an employment law mediator and investigator, I help people and businesses resolve their disputes over claims of workplace discrimination. Get started today by scheduling a mediation or investigation inquiry call. 

What is unlawful employment discrimination?

Employment discrimination involves treating a person unfavorably because of certain characteristics protected by law. These characteristics can include race/color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Such conduct is prohibited under various federal and state laws. 


What federal laws prohibit employment discrimination?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. Key federal laws include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.

  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which forbids discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination.

Does Minnesota law prohibit employment discrimination?

Minnesota's laws against discrimination are primarily contained in the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, public assistance, age (for all people over 18), sexual orientation, familial status, and membership or activity in a local human rights commission. It applies to employers with one or more employees.

Employment discrimination can take many forms, including:

  • Hiring and Firing: If an employee reports a case of sexual harassment or discrimination at the workplace and is subsequently fired or demoted without a valid reason, this could be seen as unlawful retaliation.

  • Compensation and Other Employment Terms, Conditions, and Privileges: For instance, if an employee files a complaint about unsafe working conditions, and their next performance review is unfairly poor, without any change in their job performance, this may be considered retaliation.

  • Harassment: This could include, for example, an employer or supervisor making an employee's work environment hostile or uncomfortable after the employee has engaged in a protected activity, such as filing a discrimination complaint or participating in a workplace investigation.

  • Retaliation: If an employee complains about wage theft, and their job duties are suddenly and significantly altered to less desirable tasks, this may be retaliatory.

Importantly, for an activity to be protected, an employee does not need to be correct that a violation occurred. Rather, they need to have a good faith, reasonable belief that the practices they oppose or participate in investigating are unlawful. It's also crucial to note that not all opposition to unfair practices is protected. The manner of opposition must be reasonable and not excessively disruptive to the workplace.

Remember that while this answer provides a general understanding, the specifics can vary depending on the law in question. For instance, whistleblower laws protect employees who report a variety of illegal activities not related to discrimination. Employees and employers should always consult with an attorney or relevant agency to understand the exact protections in a given situation.


What remedies are there for unlawful employment discrimination?

If an employee believes they have been the victim of unlawful discrimination in the workplace, they have several potential remedies, such as:​

  • Reinstatement: If the employee was wrongfully terminated or demoted, a court can order the employer to reinstate the employee to their former position or a similar one.

  • Back Pay: This is the lost earnings resulting from the discriminatory action, such as if the employee was fired or had their hours cut.

  • Front Pay: This is the amount of money an employee would have earned in the future if they were reinstated to their position.

  • Compensatory Damages: These are damages intended to compensate for out-of-pocket expenses caused by the discrimination, such as job search expenses, medical expenses, or relocation costs, as well as emotional distress.

  • Punitive Damages: These damages are awarded to punish the employer for particularly egregious behavior. They are only available in certain cases, such as under federal law if the employer is proven to have acted with malice or reckless indifference.

  • Attorneys' Fees and Costs: If the employee wins the case, the employer may be ordered to pay the employee's legal fees and court costs.

  • Policy Changes: The employer may be required to change their policies or practices to prevent future discrimination.

  • Training: The employer may be required to provide training to its employees about their rights and obligations under anti-discrimination laws.

Employment discrimination law is complex, and it can be challenging for both employees and employers to navigate. An employment law attorney with expertise in this area can provide guidance on the laws that apply, how they are interpreted, and how they apply to specific situations.

Related Topics:

Minnesota Race Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Sexual Harassment Attorney
Minnesota Gender Identity Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Retaliation Attorney
Minnesota Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Disability Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Religious Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Legal Investigations Attorney
Minnesota Sex Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Age Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota National Origin Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Employment Law Mediator
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