Area of Law:
Workers in the state of Minnesota are lucky to enjoy some of the fairest workplaces in the country. In addition to federal laws prohibiting workplace racial discrimination, Minnesota also has state laws in place to supplement the federal statutes. Furthermore, there are several counties and municipalities in Minnesota that have their own laws and statutes governing how racial discrimination in the workplace is to be handled. In other words, if you work in Minnesota and feel you have been the victim of racial discrimination, there are many avenues of recourse that are available to you. If you are confused as to what is the best way to move forward, it is worthwhile to contact an attorney, who can then advise you about the handling of your particular case.
Moving forward with a racial discrimination complaint begins with filing a claim either at the county, state, or federal level. Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties all have their own county agencies that process claims based on local ordinances. Generally speaking, these agencies handle claims more quickly than the state and federally-run agencies, so if you are able to get your case handled at the county level, taking that route may be the advisable approach.
At the state level, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) handles discrimination cases, and at the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes over. Knowing which agency to file with generally comes down to a matter of how many employees work in your company. The MDHR can handle any case regardless of company size, but the EEOC will only handle cases involving employers with 15 or more employees. With that being said, even if you work for a large company, your attorney may still advise you to file at the state level, especially if you live in an area that is not in close proximity to an EEOC office.
The agency that you file with will investigate your claim, and you will most likely either be given the right to proceed with your court case or the agency will try to settle the matter through mediation without going to court. Mediation may sound like a long and complicated process, but many cases can be settled out of court with minimal complications. Not only can mediation be better for you in terms of saving legal fees and time, it can also be beneficial to the courts because it can keep them from being clogged with cases that could be settled in other ways.
If you want to file a racial discrimination claim, it is important that you do so right away. Racial discrimination claims must adhere to strict statutes of limitations. If you are filing with the EEOC at the federal level, you must file within 180 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory incident, and if you are filing with the MDHR, you must file within one year; however, it is highly advisable to file as soon as you can as there may be other legal deadlines that you are not aware of.