June 30, 2014

Employment News Employment Discrimination Hostile Work Environment Wrongful Termination

MHRA Amended with Right to Jury Trial

Governor Dayton’s recent signing of an amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act marks a significant stride forward in our collective quest for human rights protection in Minnesota. This critical amendment champions the right of discrimination and retaliation victims to a trial by jury – a cornerstone of the American justice system. It unequivocally asserts that individuals facing discrimination in employment, housing, education, or other areas have the right to have their cases heard by a jury in state court proceedings.

Throughout the discussions in the Minnesota Senate, employment lawyers representing the plaintiff’s bar stood at the forefront, advocating passionately for the amendment’s passage. Their advocacy underscored the urgent need for this legislative change, addressing a long-standing ambiguity around the right to a jury trial in discrimination cases. Previously, individuals were often constrained to bench trials, the outcomes of which could vary significantly based on the venue and specific allegations. The enactment of this amendment is hailed as a monumental advancement for Minnesota employees, empowering them with the unequivocal right to have their voices heard and their grievances judged by a jury of their peers.

The Minnesota Human Rights Act is a powerful testament to our state’s commitment against discrimination, prohibiting any form of discrimination based on race, color, creed, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, national orientation, citizenship, familial or marital status, religion, public assistance status, veteran status, or genetic information. It places stringent restrictions on Minnesota employers, forbidding any adverse employment actions based on discriminatory reasons and holding employers accountable for harassment or retaliation stemming from discrimination reports. This amendment fortifies the Act, ensuring that members of any protected class can hold employers accountable for discrimination through a jury trial.

This landmark amendment underscores Minnesota’s unwavering commitment to upholding the values of equality and justice. It not only enhances the legal protections available to victims of unlawful discrimination and retaliation but also embodies our state’s dedication to ensuring that the rights of every individual are respected and protected, both in the workplace and beyond. By affirming the right to a jury trial, we take a significant leap forward in making justice accessible and equitable for all our residents, setting an exemplary standard for other states to emulate in the pursuit of human rights and equality.

In this moment, we are reminded of the power of unity and collective action in driving societal change. Together, we can continue to build a more just and equitable Minnesota, where every person’s rights are upheld and protected.

If you have suffered discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, we can help. You may be entitled to compensation, including actual damages for the violation, punitive damages, and additional financial compensation related to discrimination or an adverse employment action take against you. For more information about the MHRA and your rights, please contact the employment lawyers at Wanta Thome by calling 612-252-3570.