Happy New Year from MDHR!

Minnesota Department of Human Rights logo
Com. Lucero

Happy New Year! 

While 2021 will bring new opportunities and challenges, two things will not change at the Minnesota Department of Human Rights:

First, our vision remains strong. 

We believe that everyone deserves to live a life with dignity and joy.

However, racism, transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia continue to be persistent and pervasive. 

And at the same time, Minnesota has one of the strongest civil rights enforcement laws in the country, the Minnesota Human Rights Act. So, as always, Minnesotans have a strong civil rights law and agency to turn to if they experience discrimination.

Secondly, civil rights work cannot be done alone.

We are made stronger through the simple recognition that we are interconnected and interdependent. We need one another. I am incredibly grateful for the staff, community partners, human rights commissions, and so many others!

Looking ahead, I am encouraged and excited for what is possible because we are building on a strong foundation. While there's so much more work to do, below you'll find some of what we accomplished last year. 

To stay up-to-date on our work, sign up for our newsletter. 

With deep gratitude, 
Rebecca Lucero 
Minnesota Department of Human Rights

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Creating Equitable and Inclusive Workplaces

Quote from Kimberly about the discrimination she experienced because she was pregnant.


In July, the Minnesota Supreme Court sided with our Department in a high-stakes workplace discrimination case. The court ruled -- for the first time -- that the Minnesota Human Rights Act protects unpaid interns. 

We also reached a settlement agreement with an employer who unlawfully fired an employee, Kimberly, for taking parental leave. Our agreement required the employer to change their policies to help ensure pregnancy discrimination doesn't happen again and pay Kimberly $25,000. 

Affirming Disability Rights Are Civil Rights

Disability Rights are Civil Rights

2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 75th anniversary of Disability Employment Awareness Month. While we celebrated, disability discrimination persists. 

For example, an employer repeatedly denied Laura, a veteran with a service-related disability, from bringing her service animal to work. Our settlement agreement required the company to change their service animal policy and pay Laura $75,000. 

Landmark Court Decisions for the LGBTQ+ Community 

LGBTQ and Transgender Flags with Minnesota Department of Human Rights Logo

We celebrated the the Minnesota Court of Appeals' decision that Minnesota schools must allow students to use locker rooms that align with their gender identity. This means schools are safer for transgender and gender nonconforming students. 

We also celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that echoed what Minnesota's civil rights law said since 1993: discrimination based on someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation is illegal. 

Building a more Anti-Racist Minnesota

Jameisha Cox quote

A senior living facility assigned Jameisha, a Black woman, to work with a resident who racially harassed her. The senior living facility also unlawfully fired Jameisha because of her race. Our settlement agreement required the employer to address and prevent future racial discrimination and pay Jameisha. 

At the Capitol, we supported the Crown (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. While race discrimination is already prohibited under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, this bill provides plain language clarity to ensure the definition of race includes hairstyles inherent to racial identity. 

Creating Safer Schools

Governor Walz and Commissioner Lucero

Photo taken in January 2020


In February, we entered into a consent decree with West Lutheran High School that required the school to make changes to address sexual assault, harassment, and bullying of students. This came after we sued the school in 2019 when officials failed to act after a student reported she was sexually harassed and assaulted by other students. 

Investigating the Minneapolis Police Department

Civil Rights Investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department


Following the death of George Floyd, we launched a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. This is the only investigation surrounding the killing of George Floyd focusing on MPD's policies and practices.

As part of the ongoing investigation, investigators are reviewing ten years of data, policies, and procedures, as well conducting interviews.

Throughout the investigation, we are intentionally learning and listening. That's why our community engagement team is meeting with community organizations. We also launched a timeline of reports, studies, and efforts from the past 20 years to help honor the path that was paved for this investigation. 

Advancing Civil Rights through the Office of Equity and Inclusion

Construction Work Scene


Minnesota thrives when state investments are used to intentionally undo disparities and inequities. That's why we celebrated Governor Walz signing Equity in Bonding into law last October. It requires bonding money recipients to work with our Department to create hiring opportunities for people of color, Indigenous people, and/or women on state projects, while ensuring men and women are paid the same rate for the same job. 

Growing our Mediation Program

A man who uses a wheelchair poses in front of a building.


The Department's mediation program is an opportunity for parties to resolve issues of discrimination early on and repair relationships. Last year, more Minnesotans used mediation to resolve cases of discrimination. In fact, twice the number of individuals who experienced discrimination and three times the number of entities that allegedly discriminated chose mediation compared to 2019. 

Responding to COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, our agency continues to help Minnesotans understand their civil rights.

We worked with other agencies to provide information on worker and housing protections. And when we heard reports of increased discrimination from the Asian American Pacific Islander community in Minnesota, we helped launched a Discrimination Helpline

Minnesota Department of Human Rights Discrimination Helpline 1.833.454.0148

Celebrating and Honoring Dr. King

Nur-D Performing at the 2020 MLK Celebration

Nur-D performing at last year's MLK Day Celebration, For Our Children.


Last year, our Department helped plan the Governor and Lieutenant Governor's State of Minnesota Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration. We came together to reflect and build on the legacy of Dr. King, strengthen connections, and celebrate Black excellence. 

This year, the celebration is virtual and we hope you'll join us on Monday, January 18!

The keynote is Matthew A. Cherry.

He’s an award-winning director, writer, and producer. His animated short film and book, Hair Love, follows the relationship between Zuri, her natural hair, and her father. 

We’ll discuss how Dr. King fought for justice and love, worked to end racism and poverty, and what this means today. 

Beloved Community, Beloved Connections - 2021 MLK Day Celebration. Monday, January 18, Virtual Celebration
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