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

Sexual orientation discrimination refers to treating an individual less favorably or unfairly because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. It involves a range of behaviors and actions that disadvantage individuals because of their sexual orientation, including in the areas of employment, housing, education, and public services.

Minnesota Mediator for Sexual Orientation Discrimination Cases

As a civil rights attorney, I have had significant experience with cases involving sexual orientation discrimination. I bring that experience to the mediation table and investigation settings to help parties resolve dipsutes in this complex and evolving area of law.  

What laws prohibit sexual orientation discrimination?

A collection of state and federal laws bar discrimination based on sexual orientation in various aspects of life, including employment, housing, education, and access to public services and places.


  • Employment: Both federal law (primarily through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and Minnesota law (through the Minnesota Human Rights Act, or MHRA) prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

  • Housing: The MHRA and the federal Fair Housing Act prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation. This includes refusing to rent or sell housing, making housing unavailable, setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling, or falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental.

  • Education: The MHRA prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in education. Educational institutions generally cannot treat students or prospective students differently based on their sexual orientation.

  • Public Services and Accommodations: The MHRA generally prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public services and accommodations, including access to hotels, restaurants, theaters, and other public facilities.

What does unlawful sexual orientation discrimination look like?

Sexual orientation discrimination can take several forms:

  • Direct Discrimination: This occurs when someone is treated less favorably because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. For example, if an employer decides not to promote a worker because they are gay, that would be direct discrimination.

  • Indirect Discrimination: This occurs when a policy or practice that applies to everyone disproportionately disadvantages people of a certain sexual orientation. For instance, a policy that offers benefits to an employee's opposite-sex spouse but not to a same-sex spouse could be seen as indirect discrimination.

  • Harassment: This includes offensive remarks, derogatory statements, or any unwelcome conduct based on a person's sexual orientation.

If a person believes they have been a victim of sexual orientation discrimination, they can seek remedies through the Minnesota Department of Human Rights or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Remedies can include job reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, changes in policy, or even punitive damages.

It's important to note that while the MHRA and federal laws provide a strong foundation for combating sexual orientation discrimination, the nuances of each case can be complex. Therefore, those who have questions regarding this form of discrimination are often best served by consulting with an experienced attorney.

Related Topics:

Minnesota Gender Identity Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Employment Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Sex Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Education Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Public Accommodation Discrimination Attorney
Minnesota Legal Investigations Attorney
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