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By Kate A. Fisher (Attorney) and Charlie O'Meara (Law Clerk)

Minnesota Law: Protections for LGBT Minnesotans

Some states, including Minnesota, provide certain protections for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Specifically, in 1993, “sexual orientation” was added as a protected class under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).

The MHRA defines “sexual orientation” as “having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one's biological maleness or femaleness.” Minn. Stat. § 363A.03. 

The MHRA prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in a wide variety of settings including:

  • Employment.
  • Housing.
  • Public Accommodations.
  • Public Services.
  • Education.
  • Credit.
  • Business.

See Minn. Stat. §§ 363A.08-13 and Minn. Stat. § 363A.16-17.

In the employment context, for example, it is generally unlawful for a covered employer, because of sexual orientation, to:

  1. refuse to hire or to maintain a system of employment which unreasonably excludes a person seeking employment; or
  2. discharge an employee; or
  3. discriminate against a person with respect to hiring, tenure, compensation, terms, upgrading, conditions, facilities, or privileges of employment.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 363A.08.

In some circumstances, certain employers are exempt from MHRA coverage. For example, the MHRA non-discrimination provision does not apply to a religious organization, with respect to qualifications based on sexual orientation, when sexual orientation is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment. See Minn. Stat. § 363A.20.

Notably, both Minneapolis and St. Paul each have city-specific non-discrimination laws that include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity.  See Minneapolis, Minn., Code of Ordinances, Title 7, Ch. 139; St. Paul, Minn., Code of Ordinances, Title XVIII, Ch. 183.

All workers, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve to be treated fairly. Our firm prides itself on advancing these rights.

Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash