Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA)

In just a few short weeks, an amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) that will provide a right to a jury trial for claims arising under that law will go into effect.

Minnesota Jury Trial Attorneys

 

The MHRA  prohibits discrimination and retaliation for opposing such discrimination in a variety of contexts, including public and private employment, housing, education, public accommodation, and more. Protected classes under the MHRA include race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, status with regarding to public assistance, sexual orientation, and age. [click to continue…]

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Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law an amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act that will ensure victims of discrimination and retaliation are entitled to a jury trial.  The bill, SF2322, was passed by the House and Senate in previous weeks and will go into effect on August 1, 2014.

Minnesota Jury Trial Attorneys

Previously, there was uncertainty over whether a victim of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation would receive a jury trial, and to what level the jury’s verdict was entitled to deference.  Due to a legal intersection of federal, state, common, and statutory law, and depending on what claims were brought and in what venue, there were often instances were individuals who have been the target of illegal activity by their employer have only been allowed a trial by judge.   [click to continue…]

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The Argument of the Month Club describes itself as, “The Men’s Forum for Catholic Apologetics.”  Started 14 years ago, the wildly successful forum now attracts more than 500 men to its monthly discussions.  Tackling tough and wide-ranging topics, the group’s mission is to enlighten both Catholics and non-Catholics in order to better teach and defend the Catholic faith.

Madia Law’s Joshua Newville is honored to speak at the forum on May 13, 2014.  Newville will join Attorney Joel Oster, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, and moderator Michael Olson from Providence Academy, in discussing a topic that intersects employment law and constitutional law: to what extent can private schools terminate employees who speak out against the institution’s principles, teaching, etc.?  Can Catholic schools fire employees who are openly opposed to the very faith tradition of the school itself?

Newville, who represents individuals in matters involving discrimination and the deprivation of civil rights and liberties, will argue that private schools must be careful not to ignore individual employee rights, i.e., principles of free speech and anti-discrimination, in a pursuit of institutional autonomy.  In presenting his argument, Newville will draw on principles and practices in constitutional and employment law, as well as recent relevant case law and broader policy considerations.

Oster, who represents churches and private schools in such litigation, argues that we’ve entered a new era regarding religious freedom – one where government passes law that requires people and institutions to violate their faith. Oster’s argument focuses on the autonomy of the church and how that relates to such constitutional principles as the free exercise of religion pursuant to the First Amendment.

The discussion will take place in the basement of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, which is located at 408 3rd St. N. in South Saint Paul, MN 55075.  The event details, from the event website:

MENU
From the AOTM CORONARY KITCHEN!
Appetizer
Chips and salsa
Dinner
Smoked Pork, boiled red potatoes covered in herbed chived butter
Dessert
Brownies and ice cream
 
6:00pm Social Hour and Appetizers
7:00pm Dinner
7:30pm Main Presentation
8:30pm Dessert
8:45pm Q&A
$15 at the door (The total cost for the night) You will get great appetizers and beverages, hear one of the best inspirational stories you have ever heard about manhood and faith. Do all this while you listen and enjoy a fabulous “Manly Meal”. Men of all creeds and ages are welcome to join in the good humor, food, and fellowship. Priests and seminarians get in free but will not be shown partiality in debate. Fathers are encouraged to bring their minor sons.

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Madia Law settled an age discrimination case on behalf of “Joan” after defeating her former employer’s motion for summary judgment.

The terms are confidential pursuant to the parties’ settlement agreement.

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I’ll admit it.  When I first learned about “The Woman Question” during my first year of a law school, I wasn’t impressed.  I immediately equated this feminist approach to the world (and particularly, to the law) with what I felt was as an overly radicalized modern feminism.

Minnesota Gender Discrimination Lawyers This week, I was reminded of The Woman Question.  A new study (conducted by the University of Toronto and published September 16) shows that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts on feminism.  As a society, the study determines, we tend to distrust movements heavily supported by overt activism.  Salon’s Tom Jacobs concludes:

So the message to advocates is clear: Avoid rhetoric or actions that reinforce the stereotype of the angry activist. Realize that if people find you off-putting, they’re not going to listen to your message. As Bashir and her colleagues note, potential converts to your cause “may be more receptive to advocates who defy stereotypes by coming across as pleasant and approachable.”

As a threshold matter, the angry activists have reason to be angry.  American women make 81 cents on the dollar when compared to men.  The United States is one of only 8 countries in the world that don’t offer paid maternity leave (with the likes of Suriname, Liberia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Western Samoa and Tonga).  In 2011, women ran only 12 of the Fortune 500 companies.  In 2010, women accounted for only 31.5% of all lawyers.  Unfortunately, I could go on with employment (and other) disparities.

In any event, as I’ve come to learn since that first year of law school, the kind of strident activism employed by groups such as feminists, environmentalists, and gay rights advocates serves one incredibly important purpose: it forces those in a position of power to pay attention, to take pause, to ask questions.   [click to continue…]

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It’s been a busy week for employment law and civil rights.  The impact of the past week’s Supreme Court decisions on these two areas of law cannot be understated.  The Voting Rights Act was gutted, killing protections put in place to prevent discrimination at the ballot box.  The Civil Rights Act was substantially weakened, stripping minority employees across the country from access to Title VII remedies. And although the news for same-sex couples was brighter, the Court’s narrow decisions on that front leave much work to be done in the struggle for equality.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court released its decisions in United States v. Windsor (the “DOMA” case) and Hollingsworth v. Perry (the “Prop 8″ case).  These two cases each had the potential to become landmark civil rights precedent, with monumental significance for gay and lesbian Americans; they were heralded by pundits as the most important civil rights cases of our generation.

Indeed, the decision in Windsor will go down as one of the most significant decisions in Supreme Court history; it struck at the heart of DOMA and declared gay and lesbians deserving of equal protection under the law.  The Court’s decision in Perry, on the other hand, will soon be brushed into the dusty corners of irrelevance; in that case, a group of five strange bedfellow Justices entirely ducked the question of whether same-sex couples are entitled to marriage equality.  Thus, the struggle for gay civil rights marches on – and there is a lot of ground to cover. [click to continue…]

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Madia Law settled a shocking case of sexual harassment and workplace intimidation that eventually led to the Plaintiff developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


A female employee, “Mary”, was sexually harassed and intimidated by her male supervisor. Despite repeated attempts by Mary and others to report the supervisor’s behavior, he remained employed for nearly two years because a department manager repeatedly refused to take any action.  The supervisor’s constant harassment and terrorizing of Mary had a devastating effect on her life.

On Mary’s behalf, Madia Law sued the employer approximately one year ago, charging violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act and common law infliction of emotional distress.  The suit has now settled for $125,000.  A summary of the events leading to the case follows:  [click to continue…]

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It’s a tactic long used by defendants in both civil and criminal cases.  From charges of rape to sexual harassment, men take the stand and point the finger at their female victims.  Claiming that they “asked for it,” or that they “wanted it,” such men have often found sympathetic audiences in judges and juries.

In three recent and sensational examples (one in Iowa, one in Minnesota, and one in Arizona), Defendants’ attempts to use the “blame her defense” have yielded strikingly different results.  While the cases are very different, both legally and factually, they serve as fascinating examples of a kind of defense that, despite such protections as Title VII and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, female victims must continue to grapple with.

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Madia Law, representing a woman who worked at a Twin Cities technology company, has initiated a sex discrimination lawsuit against the company pursuant to the Minnesota Human Rights Act.  Just prior to the Plaintiff’s hire, the company (which has been in business for decades) employed dozens of men and not a single woman.

In Fall 2012, the Plaintiff commenced employment as a department manager. Around the same time, the Defendant hired two other women. During her interview, a senior-level executive told the Plaintiff that although he was willing to hire her, the company had bad past experiences with women and “doesn’t like to hire” them.  Shortly after starting, the Plaintiff was told that she would have to “prove” herself by, “doing better than any man” if she wanted to keep her job; she was also repeatedly told that she was, “at a disadvantage” because she was a woman. [click to continue…]

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In November 2012, Madia Law sued a Twin Cities accounting firm on behalf of a learning disabled accountant. The young accountant, who has suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) since he was a child, disclosed his disability to his supervisor at the time of his first performance evaluation.

 

Despite being fully capable of being successful at the job, the young man wanted to be sure his supervisor knew that he thinks, learns, and works in a different way than others, particularly since he noticed a few comments on his evaluation that seemed to signal a concern with the way he processed information and executed tasks. The accountant felt that it would help everyone involved to be aware of his slight disability. But, soon after disclosing his disability and requesting slight accommodation, he was fired.  [click to continue…]

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Prediction: National Marriage Equality Within 9 Months

November 8, 2012

Prior to Tuesday, six states (New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa) and the District of Columbia had full marriage equality. As a result of Tuesday’s historic election, three additional states will now have marriage equality as well. Those states are Maine, Maryland, and Washington. (Technically, at the time of this post, Washington’s results […]

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Suing Hospitals When Doctors Sexually Harass

October 29, 2012

A San Diego hospital and doctor have been sued by an 18-year-old intern who alleges sexual harassment, sexual battery and assault, hostile work environment, and negligence.   The plaintiff, who was only 17 at the time he began an internship at San Diego Memorial Hospital, alleges that cardiologist David Hicks sexually harassed and assaulted him […]

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“Minnesota Lawyer” covers Madia Law’s $1.3 Million Verdict in Breach of Duty Case

October 5, 2012

Minnesota Lawyer covered Madia Law’s recent $1.3 million jury verdict in it’s October issue.  The front-page article includes excerpts of interviews with Ashwin Madia and Susan Gaertner.  

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Former Gov. Jesse Ventura is Voting No on the Anti-Marriage Amendment – and You Should Too

September 14, 2012

Quick post here:  The Minnesotans United for All Families Campaign put out a great video today featuring former Governor Ventura and his wife, Terry, speaking about the amendment on the ballot this November that seeks to prohibit gay and lesbian partners from marrying.  Ventura points out that one of the issues at stake — in […]

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Aug. 2012: Madia Law Wins $1.3M Jury Verdict in Disability Discrimination Case

September 12, 2012

After a two week trial, a Carver County jury awarded Madia law client Dr. Sam Deweese nearly $1.3M in damages from his former clinic. Dr. Deweese worked as a family practice physician for nearly twenty years at his clinic and earned high praise from his patients.  He devoted his entire working life to the institution, […]

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Twin Cities Lead Nation in Racial Unemployment Gap

July 7, 2012

In Brown v. Board (U.S. 1954), the United States Supreme Court ordered that public schools across the nation integrate, supposedly putting an end to the segregation of schools on the basis of race. Yet, Minnesota spent the better part of the next thirty years attempting to achieve that end. In 1964, Title VII of The […]

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Lawsuit Alleges Old Boys’ Club in Young Industry

June 12, 2012

In Bradwell v. Illinois, (U.S. 1873), the Supreme Court declared that allowing a woman to practice law would surely destroy her femininity. According to the 8-1 decision, law is a man’s profession and  women simply aren’t well-suited for such rigor. While that may seem archaic, it wouldn’t be until 1971 that the Court invalidated such discrimination by […]

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Supreme Court to Review Prop 8 and Sexual Orientation Discrimination

June 7, 2012

Tuesday’s decision in Perry v. Brown (the “Prop 8” case) means that roughly one year from now, it is likely that the United States Supreme Court will be giving its opinion on the now infamous 2008 ballot proposition that resulted in barring Californian gay couples from joining in marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy will ultimately decide the fate of […]

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Minnesota Supreme Court: Hostile Work Environment Sex Discrimination can occur even without Sexual Harassment

May 16, 2012

LaMont v. Independent School District #728 (Minn. 2012):  The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled today that a hostile work environment claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act may be based on conduct that is based on sex, even if the conduct is not sexual.

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Court denies summary judgment to bank that fired longtime employee who had multiple sclerosis

May 7, 2012

Wandersee v. Farmers State Bank (D. Minn. 2012):  A federal district court in Minnesota denied summary judgment to Farmers State Bank in a disability discrimination case under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Minnesota Human Rights Act brought by Karin Wandersee, a longtime employee who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

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