November Civil Rights Roundup

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November Newsletter

CSL Plasma Discriminated Against Another Minnesotan on the Basis of Gender Identity

CSL Plasma Timeline

In living out our mission to ensure the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) is creating a strong, thriving Minnesota that is free of discrimination, we amended our complaint with new allegations of continued discrimination in our lawsuit against CSL Plasma. In September 2019, the plasma collection center unlawfully discriminated again on the basis of gender identity, this time against Charlie Edgar, who is non-binary.

“I am disheartened that I have to fight to be seen as a human being,” said Charlie Edgar. “I was hurt and embarrassed when I was denied to give plasma at CSL. I want to be able to operate in a world where I don't always have to teach medical professionals how to treat me and wonder how to pay my bills when I can't access the same services as low income cisgender folks."

In addition to implementing policies and procedures that adhere to the Minnesota Human Rights Act and training for employees, MDHR is asking the court to require CSL Plasma to financially compensate all potential donors it turned away due to gender identity.

“CSL Plasma is unlawfully turning away donors based on archaic stereotypes,” said Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman.

Relevant Links:

MDHR Takes on National Civil Rights Issues

We strive to be a leader in civil rights. That's why we recently joined other states across the country in two vital civil rights issues that impact Minnesotans. 

MDHR Joins Multistate Lawsuit Protecting Access to Critical Information on Pay Discrimination

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In 2017, the Federal Administration halted a program that would have required the collection of pay data from private employers with over 100 employees. The information would be used as part of the effort to address the persistent wage gap.

In 2016, women in Minnesota still only earned approximately 83 percent of what men earned. For women of color, the pay gap is worse. Black and Native Women earned approximately 59 percent of what White men earned and Latinas earned approximately 54 percent of what White men earned in 2016. Black and Latino men also earn considerably less than White men.

“In joining this lawsuit, we recommit ourselves to equal pay for all Minnesotans. This data would help Minnesota businesses ensure their employees are being treated equally and help agencies like ours enforce anti-discrimination laws," said Commissioner Lucero. 

Read more here.

MDHR Sends Letter to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

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Communities can truly prosper when there is safe and stable housing available to everyone. Housing discrimination prevents community members, especially people of color, indigenous people, and people with disabilities, from securing safe and stable housing. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) must be an important tool for ensuring housing providers afford equal access to those who seek a place to call home.

That's why MDHR joined other government agencies throughout the country in submitting a formal comment to HUD in response to the Federal Administration's proposed amendments that would drastically reduce the FHA's effectiveness when it comes to ensuring equal access. 

Read the formal comment here.

Hate Crimes Listening Session in St. Cloud

St. Cloud Hate Crimes Forum

The FBI released statistics in November 2018 showing there were 146 reported hate crimes in Minnesota, with the vast majority being motivated by race. In the first six months of 2019, MDHR received more racial discrimination charges than it did in the last six months of 2018.

Behind every hate crime is bias and discrimination, which is where MDHR focuses. That's why Commissioner Lucero joined Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, St. Cloud State Representative Dan Wolgamott, and other St. Cloud community members for a listening session on hate crimes last month.

New Staff and Open Positions

The individuals who work at MDHR are deeply committed to the mission and vision of the agency. This makes it bittersweet to say goodbye to staff who take on new opportunities. Recently, we said farewell to Peter Zuniga who was the agency's General Counsel, Heidi Hovis who worked in our St. Cloud Regional Office, and Beth Commers who led our settlement work and partnerships with school districts and charter schools. It also means we have an opportunity to welcome new folks to the team. 

Welcome MDHR's New General Counsel

Nick Pladson

Nick Pladson joined MDHR this week as General Counsel. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) where he served in many roles since 2007. Most recently, Nick served as the Acting Director of the Minneapolis Area Office where he managed agency programs to enforce federal employment discrimination law. Nick is a 2007 graduate of William Mitchell College of Law and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Nick will oversee the Department’s legal team and work closely with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office to enforce the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Job Opening: Investigator in our St. Cloud Regional Office

Investigators are responsible for thoroughly and impartially analyzing and investigating claims of discrimination from members of the public, and determining whether the claims constitute violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, current Minnesota state case law, and related federal anti-discrimination statutes and regulations.

Salary Range: $45,789 - $66,795/annually

Deadline to Apply: Thursday, December 5

Apply: Go to and enter Job ID 37075. A resume and cover letter describing your interest in the position are required to be considered for the Investigator position.

Opening for an Education Equity Constultant

MDHR is committed to creating a world where everyone can lead full lives of dignity and joy, free from discrimination, by reducing inequities in school suspensions and expulsions. To help address these inequities, MDHR is looking to hire an Education Equity Consultant to partner with school districts and charter schools throughout the state.

Click here to read the Request for Proposals.

Save the Date for the 2020 MLK Celebration

What are you doing on Monday, January 20, 2020?

Attend Governor Walz's Martin Luther King. Jr. Celebration in St. Paul! Save the date on your calendar now and we'll follow up with more information soon. 

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