Minnesota Disability Discrimination Lawyers
In Minnesota, some laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities. There are also federal laws that protect employees. As an employee in Minnesota, you are protected by both state and federal laws.
If you are discriminated at work in Minnesota, you may be able to sue and obtain monetary damages for your discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) do not allow an employer to treat a disabled employee differently than an employee without a disability. Discrimination could be seen in the hiring process, training process, selection of promotions, compensation, and the firing of an employee.
If you feel you have been discriminated against while at work because of a disability, the attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers can advocate for you and ensure you get the treatment to which you are entitled. We can review your case and help you overcome discrimination in your place of employment.
What Is Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination can look different for everyone. It can change based on the situation and context of the actions taken. Sometimes new job applicants feel they are denied a job because of their disability, or they were trained differently or offered different positions because of their disability. In some workplaces, a disability may drive who is promoted or who is not.
When an employer makes a decision regarding a disabled employee and it causes them to be treated differently than their counterparts because of their disability, that employer has committed disability discrimination. Again, disability discrimination can take many different forms and may look different in each situation.
Laws Regarding Disability Discrimination
Both the federal government and the Minnesota state legislature have enacted laws to prevent the discrimination of disabled employees in the workplace. These laws are substantially similar, but the Minnesota law has some nuances when it is directly compared to the federal law. As an employee in Minnesota, you are protected by both laws.
The federal law that governs how disabled employees must be treated is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This lays out multiple aspects of laws protecting those who are disabled in our society and protects those individuals who are working while disabled. The Minnesota law that further protects employees in the state is the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA specifically protects employees in Minnesota, while the ADA protects disabled employees in the entire country.
Americans With Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services. Title I of the ADA discusses disability discrimination in the workplace. The law prohibits both public and private employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in the workplace. This law only applies to businesses with more than fifteen employees.
To be considered an individual with a disability, you must:
- Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or
- Have a record of such impairment, or
- Be regarded as having the impairment.
An employer must make reasonable accommodations for you in the workplace. You are a qualified employee if you can, with or without reasonable accommodations, perform the essential functions of the job. Reasonable accommodations can vary from job to job and individual to individual. What one employee might require of workers who perform the job might differ from what another employee requires to do the same job.
However, your employer does not have to provide reasonable accommodations if the accommodations would cause the employer undue hardship. Undue hardship is an action that requires significant difficulty or expense when considered in the employer’s context. This may be seen in small businesses where they just don’t have the funds to provide for a specific accommodation for an individual or if the accommodation would cause such a disruption to daily business activities.
Every employer should be familiar with the ADA and be aware that they may need to provide some accommodations to some employees. If you feel your employer is not following the ADA, contact us today for a consultation at (612) 294-2200.
Minnesota Human Rights Act
Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, an employee cannot be treated differently since a disability is considered a “protected class.” An individual in a protected class cannot be treated differently because they belong to a group of individuals with a specific trait in common.
In Minnesota, for the disability to be considered a disability, the individual must be able to show:
- A physical or mental impairment that “materially interferes” with a significant life activity, or
- A record of the type of impairment noted, or
- Recognition of the kind of impairment.
Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, a temporary illness or injury would not be considered a disability, so the MHRA would not apply to those individuals. Finally, the MHRA is usually kept in line with many of the changing portions of the ADA. In 2013, the Minnesota legislature updated the MHRA to mirror the ADA provisions regarding service animals in public establishments.
If you are a disabled employee in Minnesota, we may be able to use the MHRA to get you compensation for any discrimination you may have suffered.
MN Employment Lawyers For Disability Discrimination
Federal and state laws protect individuals with mental disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of a mental disability, be sure to contact an employment law firm’s disability discrimination attorneys. The disability discrimination lawyers at Heimerl & Lammers are experienced in disability discrimination cases. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.
How Do I File a Claim?
Filing a claim against your employer is best done with the guidance of an attorney. They can walk you through the process and give you the best chance at success. With the help of an experienced employment discrimination attorney, you can rest easy knowing your case will be taken care of and adjudicated correctly.
The attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers will walk you through your case and help you understand what you will need to do to file your claim successfully. Once an attorney reviews your case, they may decide the best step is to file a petition with the court or file a claim with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Each case must be treated with extreme care, and what happens in one case may not be what needs to happen in the next case.
The Americans with Disabilities Act has made it “easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.” This means that the courts will use a very liberal interpretation when considering if someone would be given protection under the Act. The Minnesota Human Rights Act has also followed in the ADA’s footsteps and has allowed for a broad interpretation of disabilities under the law.
Disability Discrimination Retaliation
Many times, an employer might discriminate against someone who is close with a person who is disabled or who advocates on behalf of a disabled person in the workplace. When an employer discriminates based on these characteristics, the MHRA and the ADA have penalties that can be imposed against the employer to ensure they are not allowed to discriminate against these individuals. These provisions are called anti-retaliation provisions.
These anti-retaliation provisions also prevent employers from discriminating against employees who report discrimination. By including these provisions in the law, the Minnesota legislature has allowed employees to keep their employers honest and prevent employers from keeping employees quiet just because they do not want to be fired. If you’ve been terminated after reporting discrimination or asking for reasonable accommodations for yourself, we can help you! Let us fight the fight so you can get the compensation you deserve. Contact Heimerl & Lammers by calling (612) 294-2200.
How Much Might My Case Be Worth?
If you consider suing your employer, it is essential to understand what you could gain and lose before you pursue the case in court. A lawsuit may often last for many years, and you will still have to live and pay bills while the lawsuit is going on. Although we have a high success rate in cases like these, it is still important to consider what may happen if you do not win your case. One way to do that is to look at what you may recover if you win.
The value of a case depends on numerous factors. A skilled attorney can help you evaluate each factor and estimate how much your case might be worth based on the situation you are in right now. Some of the factors considered are:
- The damages you’ve suffered
- The strength of your evidence and the case in general
- How much your employer may be able to pay
- Your willingness to wait it out
There is no way of really knowing how much you may recover before an attorney digs in and analyzes what you have lost and what you may be able to recover.
What Can I Recover?
In an employment discrimination case, you may be able to recover for lost wages, emotional distress compensation, and other damages allowed under both the MHRA and the ADA. These acts also allow you to pay your attorney’s fees if you win. Finally, you may even get your job back.
The damages you receive depend on the situation and the employer. Many employers will want to settle your case early to save legal fees on their end. We have also seen juries not be very favorable to a large employer, so the company may be willing to pay more to settle the case because they don’t want to argue their case in front of a jury.
How Do I Prove Discrimination?
Proving your discrimination case can be more challenging than it may seem. Our attorneys will take steps to help you ensure you have a good case and gather evidence to use against your employer.
First, we will look to see if the employer has had an open line of communication about the disability with the employee. Especially if the employee has a short-term disability such as recovering from a surgery or just needing to back off the difficult work for a few weeks while an injury heals, the employer may not have much communication with the employee. If the employee has restrictions and tries to make it known to their employer, but the employer does not communicate and work through the issues, it can be a powerful statement to use in your case.
Next, we’ll need to consider what your job entails. What are the “essential functions” of your job? These are often not correctly defined in your job description, so we’ll look to see what you do on a typical day on the job. We want to make sure your employer can’t alter the job description so that it can fit with your disability but then expect you to do something different daily.
After that, we’ll see what accommodations you might need to do your job. You may not have needed any accommodations to do your job, and your employer fired you for your disability anyway. You may have just needed a reasonable accommodation which would not have been hard to provide. If your employer terminated you without reason or without giving you reasonable accommodation, you might have a strong case. Our attorneys are prepared and ready to help you determine how to prove your case.
When Do I Need To File My Claim?
In every state, most claims to be brought in court have a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is when you must bring your claim so it can be heard. If you do not bring your claim within this time, it will be forever barred, and you will not be able to bring it after the time expires.
In Minnesota, the period in which you need to bring a disability discrimination case is one year. This one year starts to run from the day of the wrongful termination or the last discriminatory Act your employer did.
If you are going to file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will allow you to bring a federal claim, you only have 300 days to file your complaint. It is crucial that if you think you have a claim, you need to contact an attorney immediately so they can help you get it filed before your time runs out.
An Employment Attorney Can Advocate For You if You Have Been Discriminated Against in the Workplace
An experienced employment discrimination attorney who routinely handles workplace harassment claims can help you win your case. The attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers can advocate for you if you have been discriminated against in your employment at any step in the process. If you are ready to find out how we can ensure your rights are protected, schedule an appointment with us today by calling (612) 294-2200.