MHRA and Protection Against Retaliation

Discrimination is illegal and so is retaliation for reporting it. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to their racereligionnational originsexmarital statusfamilial statusdisabilitysexual orientation and/or age, among other protected categories. Further, the MHRA prohibits an employer from engaging in retaliation against an employee who has filed a charge of discrimination or otherwise opposed a discriminatory practice.

Did you oppose discriminatory conduct in the workplace and end up getting fired from your job? Were you treated differently, demoted or harassed after reporting discrimination? Are you concerned about discrimination against a co-worker? Minnesota law protects employees against retaliation for reporting discrimination, unlawful workplace harassment and intimidation.

How should I report discrimination?

To assert a claim of retaliation or reprisal, an employee should first report to their employer their reasonable belief that they are being discriminated against or that someone else is being discriminated against. There are many ways to make a report about discriminatory conduct, including:

  • Making a written or verbal complaint about discriminatory conduct to the employer
  • Filing a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights
  • Filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If you have been victimized by discrimination and unsure where to begin, our attorneys can help. We will take the time to review your case, assess the facts, and pursue every relevant claim. If you have already filed a complaint internally and are being subject to retaliation, we will ensure that you are fully protected under the law. We will also pursue all relevant damages and any financial compensation you are entitled to.

What is retaliation?

Employees often face retaliatory actions after reporting what they believe to be discrimination at their workplace. Examples of retaliatory actions include:

  • Increased scrutiny of an employee’s work product.
  • Inconsistent application of company policies and rules which may result in disciplinary action against an employee who made a good-faith protected report.
  • An employee being demoted after participating in an investigation for a discrimination complaint.
  • An employee being intimidated and harassed by other employees or supervisors because he or she is associated with someone of a different race, sexual orientation or religion.
  • An employer fires an employee because it discovers the person has filed an internal complaint of discrimination to human resources.

Discrimination by Association

In addition to direct discrimination against employees, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate or take adverse actions against an employee who is associated with a person or group who is disabled, of a different race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. If you feel you are being targeted or discriminated against because of your partner, spouse, child, or another associated person, you may have a claim.

How can I fight back against retaliation?

If you were terminated after reporting discrimination, you should request a copy of your personnel file and a truthful reason for termination. You should also keep all evidence that documents your protected reports and any subsequent retaliatory action. Finally, you should seek legal counseling immediately as you only have a limited amount of time to take action against an employer that retaliated against you.

Am I protected if I report the discrimination of others?

Minnesota employees are also protected from retaliation when they participate in an investigation at their employer. Individuals who have testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing that opposes a discriminatory practice are protected from retaliation. The MHRA protects employees in these instances in order to encourage employees to report any discriminatory practices they observe or experience in the workplace and to ensure that they are truthful during an employment investigation and not fearful of testifying truthfully.

Are there other statutes than prohibit retaliation?

Retaliation for reporting discrimination is prohibited. There are a several statutes that prohibit employers from retaliating against employees, including:

If you have reported illegal activities, misconduct, or other wrongdoing, you have rights and may be entitled to compensation in the event of retaliation. You should contact an attorney to see if there are any other laws implicated by your retaliatory termination.


The employment retaliation attorneys at Wanta Thome PLC have years of experience litigating and winning retaliation cases. If you have questions about how to report discrimination at your workplace or how to handle a request to be interviewed as part of an investigation, you should contact one of our employment attorneys. Likewise, if you believe you have experienced retaliation after reporting discrimination or participating in an investigation, contact us for a free case evaluation.


Contact us for a no-obligation confidential consultation with our employment law team.

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