Employees in Minnesota are protected from workplace discrimination based on certain traits, such as disability or race. Congress has decided that these traits, called protected characteristics, are not a fair basis for employment decisions—including who to hire, who to fire, and how much to pay employees.
Below, we explain your rights under the state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination, including which employees are protected. (For more on this topic, see our employment discrimination and harassment page.)
Federal Laws Banning Employment Discrimination
Federal laws—including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act—protect employees in all 50 states against discrimination based on:
- national origin
- age (applies only to employees who are 40 years of age or older)
- genetic information, or
- physical or mental disability.
These federal laws make it illegal for employers of a certain size to discriminate in all aspects of employment, including hiring, benefits, promotions, pay, discipline, and termination. You are protected from discrimination if you work for a private employer with at least 15 employees (or 20 employees, for age discrimination).
Government employees are also protected from discrimination: All employees of the federal government are covered by all of the antidiscrimination laws, and all employees of state and local governments are covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. For other types of discrimination, state and local government employees are protected if they work for an agency with at least 15 employees.
Minnesota Laws Banning Employment Discrimination
The Minnesota Human Rights Act also prohibits all employers (no matter how small) from discriminating in the workplace based on the following characteristics:
- age (applies to employees between the ages of 18 and 70)
- national origin
- race or color
- sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions)
- marital status
- sexual orientation
- gender identity
- receipt of public assistance
- membership on a local commission, and
- familial status (being a parent or guardian who lives with a minor child).
A separate provision of Minnesota law prohibits all employers from making job decisions, including hiring and firing, based on genetic information.
Agencies That Enforce Discrimination Laws
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. The EEOC website provides details on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the primary federal law that prohibits employment discrimination, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal laws. See Laws Enforced by EEOC for details. See our article on how to file an EEOC claim or visit the EEOC’s website for more information.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights enforces the Human Rights Act. For more information about the law, including details about filing a complaint, visit the website of the Human Rights Department.
Finding an Employment Lawyer in Minnesota
If you believe you have been discriminated against at work, you should talk to an experienced Minnesota employment lawyer. A lawyer can assess your situation, explain the laws that might apply, and evaluate the strength of your claims. A lawyer can also advise you on how to proceed, including filing a complaint or lawsuit, and what damages might be available if you win.