What we're celebrating!

Minnesota Department of Human Rights logo
Com. Lucero


It’s been a powerful year for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR). While there is so much work to do and many areas we are working to improve, it’s always important to reflect on the intentional work we have done to make MDHR a strong civil rights enforcement agency.

It’s an honor to be able to work with the incredible staff and partners who support MDHR every day. Without a doubt, all of these successes exist because of the hard work and dedication of so many. While looking forward to all that’s ahead, I’m pleased to share with you a few things we are celebrating from this past year.

Our New Vision Statement

Lucero and Lg


If you were at the State Fair this year, you may have seen us handing out “I love civil rights” buttons. These buttons represent the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which guides our work to protect the civil rights of all Minnesotans in every county of the state.

If we are going to be successful and make Minnesota the best state in the country for children and families, we need to be clear about the vision. That’s why this year, we crafted a new vision statement: create a world where everyone can lead lives full of dignity and joy. This positive vision sees beyond ending discrimination. It helps us imagine and work towards the world we want.

We Moved Offices

Griggs Building


In July, we moved into our new St. Paul office. We continue to love the new space every day! The office and building is welcoming and accessible to all visitors and staff. It has a lot of windows, a community space, free parking, bright wall colors, and all gender restrooms. Our new office brings joy and comfort needed to protect civil rights day-after-day.

Celebrating MDHR Staff

Funny Staff Picture


MDHR is staffed by legal, administrative, investigative, information technology, policy, communications, equity and inclusion officers, and community engagement staff. Of our staff, 40% are people of color and 70% are women. Staff also speak several languages, practice different religions, and have different abilities and sexual orientations. We strive to be a government agency that is representative of and accessible to Minnesota’s diverse communities. We also show up because we believe in this work.

This year, all staff participated in digital accessibility trainings and all investigators were trained on conducting trauma-informed investigations. We also took time to build community, coming together from everything to press conferences to build-it-yourself waffle bars.

Building an Equitable and Inclusive Minnesota

Equity and Inclusion

Making Minnesota discrimination free is more relevant today than ever before particularly because Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities in the country. It is also a time when racism, transphobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and misogyny are on the rise throughout the country.  Minnesota communities are also growing older and the population is and will continue to become more racially diverse. For these reasons, we are committed to creating a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota.

This year, we used a racial equity lens to build our policy agenda, joined important conversations around hate crimes, and continued our work with school districts and charters throughout the state to reduce inequities in suspensions and expulsions. This is an area of particular focus for our agency and we’re excited to see what’s next in the coming years.

We Seek to Change Culture

CSL Press Conference


Changing culture and sparking conversations are powerful ways to prevent discrimination from occurring. To accomplish this, we publically announced some important cases this year. In August at a press conference, we announced that we reached a settlement agreement with Ramsey County and filed suit against West Lutheran High School. Both of the cases involved sexual assault and harassment of minors, and individuals who failed to act in their positions of authority. We announced the cases together to address the pervasiveness of sexual assault and harassment everywhere, in our workplaces and in our schools. These cases, along with others we announced this year garnered significant media coverage.  

It’s important to note that this specific work of bundling cases to push for changes in culture wouldn’t have been possible without Minnesota’s Attorney General, Keith Ellison. The Attorney General’s office represents MDHR in any litigation. We deeply appreciate the work they do to advance civil rights for all Minnesotans.

We Grew Our Mediation Program



Mediation is an opportunity to broaden perspectives, build shared understanding, and repair relationships through creating a path forward together.  That’s why we deepened our commitment to providing high quality, free of cost mediation services in eligible cases by creating a position and a hiring a full time Alternative Dispute Resolution Director this year. We are now resolving issues of discrimination early on through mediation, while there is still an on-going employment, housing, education, or service relationship.

Mediation is an essential component of civil rights enforcement work and we are looking forward to sharing more about this important work with you in the upcoming year.

Building Towards Strategic Compliance with Businesses

Strategic Compliance


Minnesota thrives when people are valued at work and the workforce reflects its communities. MDHR’s Office of Equity and Inclusion for Minnesota Businesses works with companies every day to live out that value.

The Office of Equity and Inclusion for Minnesota Businesses, formerly the Contract Compliance Unit, underwent a name change this year. The new name reflects the new direction of data driven strategic compliance and intercultural competency in its workforce monitoring efforts. This year, the team also began important efforts to ensure workforce participation goals (20% women and 32% people of color) for the Southwest Light Rail Transit and other construction projects are not only met but exceeded.

Making Connections throughout Minnesota

Connections Throughout Minnesota


Another big change for us has been in our community engagement work. In the past, our community engagement team was focused on building engagement capacity within other state agencies. Now, we are focused on building relationships and connections in communities throughout the state for our agency.

In fact, our two community engagement staff members drove more than 5,200 miles (that’s more miles than a roundtrip car ride from Minneapolis to Los Angeles) this year in Greater Minnesota listening and meeting with community members. We couldn’t have done this without the support from Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan who supported continuing funding for a community engagement position that was previously grant funded.  

Improving Internal Capacities to Better Serve Minnesotans

Attorney Packet


We want to ensure the Minnesota Human Rights Act continues to be a powerful and credible vehicle that protects the civil rights of all Minnesotans. That’s why we worked with our investigative, administrative, and legal teams this year to improve processes, update forms, and create better coordination between teams to ensure we are efficiently, effectively, and proactively moving cases forward.

One change we’re celebrating is the brand new Attorney Charge Packet. We heard loudly from attorneys that it needed updates – we agreed – it will be released in the next couple of weeks!  

Fighting for Civil Rights on the National Level

Federal Article


With one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country, we strive to be a national leader in anti-discrimination. We are partnering with agencies in states and cities across the nation on important federal civil rights issues that impact Minnesotans.

In October, we joined a multistate lawsuit to protect access to critical information on pay discrimination. We also submitted a formal comment to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in response to the Federal Administration’s proposed amendments to the Fair Housing Act that would drastically reduce its effectiveness when it comes to addressing and preventing housing discrimination.

2019 has been a powerful year. I am incredibly grateful to the staff and community partners who helped make it happen. We look forward to more transformational change in the coming years.

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Thank you,


Rebecca Lucero
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Minnesota Department of Human Rights

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