Can I Sue for LGBTQ Discrimination?

In most cases, yes, you can file a lawsuit if you have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation. Minnesota has expansive laws in place to protect people who are a part of, or perceived to be a part of, the LGBTQ community. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, most forms of discrimination of a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity are illegal. The types of discrimination that are prohibited include:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public accommodations (such as bars, theaters, restaurants)
  • Public services (those provided by the government)
  • Education
  • Credit
  • Business

Please note that there are exemptions for religiously affiliated and operated organizations.

Discrimination in the workplace

One of the most common places a person experiences discrimination is in the workplace. This type of discrimination is illegal, but it still happens. LGBTQ discrimination can show up in an employer’s:

  • Hiring practices
  • Promotion decisions
  • Layoffs
  • Pay and benefits
  • Starting wages
  • Layoff decisions
  • Wrongful termination

You may have heard that Minnesota is an “at-will” state and that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason, or no reason, at all. This is true, as long as the reason for firing someone is not illegal. Employers also cannot retaliate against an employer who reports discrimination.

Not everyone who is discriminated against in the workplace for their sexual orientation is terminated. Rather, they often experience a hostile work environment. This is also illegal. What does this type of discrimination look like?

  • Name calling by coworkers or supervisors based on your sexual orientation
  • Comments by coworkers about your sexual orientation
  • Physical harassment or assault because of your sexual orientation
  • Anything else in the workplace designed to draw attention to you as an LGBTQ community member

How long do you have to file a lawsuit in these cases?

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace due to your sexual orientation or gender identity, report it to your supervisor and give them a chance to address the problems. If they fail to do so, or if you have been wrongfully terminated, contact an attorney immediately. You could have a hostile work environment claim. There is a one-year time limit from the wrongful termination or the last discriminatory act to file a claim.

Can I file a lawsuit for issues outside of workplace discrimination?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit if you have experienced discrimination in any of the area protected in the MHRA. In February, Gender Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota filed a lawsuit on behalf of a transgender student against the Anoka-Hennepin School District and School Board. The state of Minnesota joined the lawsuit against the district and board in March.

The lawsuit states that the school district violated the Minnesota constitution’s right to due process and equal protection as well as the MHRA. They say that the student in question was treated differently than other students, and the district failed to provide him with an equal and adequate education.

Pride flag flies over the governor’s residence

During June, pride month, the rainbow flag flew outside of the governor’s residence. Gov. Tim Walz posted a photo of himself and his daughter in front of the flag in a tweet which said, “While we still have work to do, I will always keep fighting to ensure all Minnesotans live free from discrimination.”