Minnesota Race Discrimination Lawyers
Employers in Minnesota can fire you for a multitude of reasons. These reasons do not need to make sense or even seem fair. An employer cannot fire you, however, for an illegal reason. One example of an illegal reason for a firing is because of your race. Both Minnesota and the federal government have laws that make firing someone from their job for their race illegal.
But you do not have to be fired to be a victim of workplace racial discrimination. Racial discrimination can come in many forms. A few examples of discrimination that may be seen in the workplace are if all the white employees get a raise, but the employees of other races do not get the raise, if coworkers or supervisors make fun of you because of your race, or if you have to work longer hours just because of the color of your skin while other people of a different race do not have to work longer.
Discrimination can show up in all kinds of ways, and it may even show up in situations where you thought it was just a joke but has gone too far. If you think you are a victim of workplace racial discrimination, call the attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers. We can help you recover against your employer for the discrimination you have suffered. Call us at (612) 294-2200 for a free consultation.
What Is Racial Discrimination?
In Minnesota, workplace discrimination is when your employer discriminates against you based on one of the protected classes. A protected class is a group of people or certain characteristics that people may have in common. Workplace racial discrimination falls into these categories because it is illegal to treat anyone differently in the workplace because of one of these categories. The first category protected by the laws is race. An employer cannot make decisions based on hiring, firing, promoting, or creating tension around anyone who may fall into these groups. Protected classes in Minnesota include:
- National Origin
- Marital Status
- Public Assistance
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
- Familial Status
- Local Human Rights Commission Activity
For example, if your employer consistently promotes your counterparts while you are of a different race with the same skills, you may be a victim of workplace racial discrimination. Another example might be if you and a coworker who have the same title and skills are given different types of special projects to do, but one is consistently worse than the other. If you and your coworkers are of different races and you always get the harder task just because of your skin color, you may be a victim of workplace racial discrimination. Sometimes examples of workplace racial discrimination may be easy to spot, whereas other times, it is much more challenging to see.
Laws That Prevent Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
Many laws may help protect Minnesotans who have been victims of workplace racial discrimination. Some of these laws are created and enforced by the federal government, and some are created by the Minnesota legislature.
Title VII Of The Civil Rights Act Of 1964
In 1964, the federal government passed a law prohibiting employment discrimination based on specific protected categories. These protected classes were primarily based on the employee’s physical and family status. The protected classes are similar to what the current Minnesota law protects. The original classes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected were:
- National Origin
These original classes helped protect employees in the 1960s. Still, throughout the years, the federal government realized they needed to expand these areas to incorporate more people and create new classes to ensure every employee was entitled to the protection they deserve. Currently, the above categories have been expanded to include the following:
- Sex – meaning pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity
- Age – if you are forty or older
- Genetic Information – includes family medical history
The new and expanded categories can help employees ensure their claims can be heard when they feel discriminated against in the workplace.
Minnesota Human Rights Act
In 1967, the Minnesota legislature established the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR). This department was created to replace the State Commission Against Discrimination. When the MDHR was created, the legislature also created specific procedures for enforcing the Minnesota State Act Against Discrimination. These procedures established how the investigation, public hearing, and appeal process would function.
In 1973, the Act was renamed the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The Act was also amended to create the protected classes of marital status, disability, or status concerning public assistance. Between 1973 and the current day, the Minnesota Human Rights Act has undergone significant changes to account for our times.
The MHRA protects employees in Minnesota from racial discrimination as well. It provides specific avenues to be heard and provides a way for these employees to obtain relief from their discriminating employers. The MHRA focuses on bringing a voice to employees and ensuring they have a fighting chance when speaking up against their employers. If you’ve been a victim of workplace racial discrimination in Minnesota, the racial discrimination lawyers at Heimerl & Lammers will work to give you more than a fighting chance to win against your employer.
What to Do if You Have Been a Victim?
If you have recently been a victim of racial discrimination in the workplace, you might be in a very difficult place right now. Whether you have been fired or emotionally damaged by hearing derogatory comments about your race, it can be a difficult time. Just know that we are here to help you and support you every step of the way.
The first step after you have realized you are a victim of racial discrimination in the workplace is to record everything that has happened to you. You’ll need to remember a series of events, who was involved in the situations, and how each situation was handled. It will be important to know specific dates and times. If you are starting to suspect you may be a victim of discrimination that is not visible, you can start by writing certain events down and keeping a journal just in case you may need it later.
These journals and records of events have proven to be very helpful in lawsuits. Sometimes, it may take more than a year to get your case even to the point of a trial. Because of the stress of litigation and the events that have just happened in your life, you might forget details of these incidents that could help you win your case.
Next, if you were terminated from your position, request a copy of your personnel file. This request will have to be in writing, and the sooner you do it after getting terminated, the less time your employer would have to alter the file or add additional untrue information. Under Minnesota law, if your demand for this file is made in writing, the employer must give you a copy of your file.
Federal and state laws protect against workplace race discrimination, so if you received unfair employment-related treatment because of your race, be sure to contact race discrimination lawyers for guidance on your options. The race discrimination lawyers at Heimerl & Lammers are experienced and knowledgeable, allowing them to be best suited to protect your rights under federal laws and state laws.
How Do I Prove Racial Discrimination?
Not all racial discrimination is easy to see. Sometimes it is very subtle, and if you’re not looking or you are not the victim, you may not even be able to notice it is happening. Regardless of how blatant the discrimination appears to be, your employer will not want to admit they treated you differently because of your race.
Employers often try to cover up their discrimination and use other reasons to fire you or prevent you from moving up the ladder. A seasoned employment attorney knows what to look for in an employer and knows when they are trying to cover something up. Proving a racial discrimination claim can be tricky, but we know what to examine.
First, we will look at the reason used by the employer and prove that it is just an excuse. Once we can prove the reason given is just to cover the real illegal reason – racial discrimination, we can start to make traction. To show the coverup, we will first try to show that the employer cannot back their reason up with facts. For example, if your employer claims they fired you because you were routinely late to work, but your timecards showed you punched in on time and early every day, we have found a flaw in their excuse.
Then, we will look to see how your employer has treated other employees that work in the same role or same type of role that you do. We do this to see how they treat employees that are essentially the same but are of different races. For example, suppose you and another employee are substantially similar, meaning you both have the same skillset. You both have the same amount of experience. You are doing similar quantity and quality work. One of you has been promoted three times while the other employee is still in their entry-level position. In that case, there may be some underlying racial discrimination.
Once we start digging into the situation, we can find the reasons and excuses that don’t line up with the employer’s explanations. If you have a gut instinct that you or a coworker is being racially discriminated against, you are probably right, and your employer is just trying to cover it up.
How Much Might My Case Be Worth?
If you are considering suing your employer, it is essential to understand what you could gain and what you could 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 happening. 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, and
- 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 racial 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 permit recovery of funds to pay your attorney’s fees if you win.
The compensation 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 they may be willing to pay more to settle the case because they do not want to argue their case in front of a jury.
When Do I Need to File My Claim?
In every state, most court claims 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 period, 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 racial 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 essential 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.
Minnesota Employment Attorneys Are Ready to Help You
If you have been a victim of racial discrimination in the workplace, our attorneys are ready to help you. The attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers will help you gather the necessary evidence and put together a case where you can stand up against your employer for treating you differently because of your race. We want to make sure your story gets heard. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling (612) 294-2200.