How do I file a complaint of discrimination, and what happens after I file?
If you’ve experienced discrimination in Minneapolis in the past 365 days, you can file a complaint, documenting your experience with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.
Even If you’re not sure if something is covered by the ordinance, please submit a complaint, because even if our office can’t investigate it, we can help you find resources or guide you to where a complaint can be filed.
There are several ways to file a complaint:
Language interpreters are always available.
When you file a complaint, make sure to let us know the best way to reach you, so one of our intake officers can reach out for more information.
Once we have the information we need, Civil Rights staff will determine if your complaint falls under the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance.
If it does, the intake officer will help you draft a formal Charge of Discrimination. You’ll need to review the draft and then sign it. It’s important to know that the charge won’t be accepted until you sign it..
Once signed, a copy will be sent to whoever you brought the charge against, along with a time and date for possible mediation.
If they do not want to mediate, they will have 20 days to respond to the charge.
Mediation brings both sides together with one of our trained mediators to help discuss issues and see if you can come to an agreement to settle your case.
Depending on what kind of case you have, the agreement could be anything from being paid for lost wages, to remaining in your housing, to anti-discrimination training.
If mediation is successful, then both sides will sign a written agreement, documenting what they agreed upon, and the Department will close your case.
If mediation is not successful, our staff will obtain the other side’s response to the charge and send you a copy.
Once you’ve reviewed the other side’s response, you can reply and submit evidence to support your charge.
This is called a rebuttal, and it’s very important that we receive all your evidence at this time, and that you tell us everything you think we should know.
After reading your rebuttal, we should know:
- What happened
- When it happened
- And have any documents, emails, pictures, screenshots, texts, call records, videos, and other things you feel support your claim.
We rely on you to submit everything you believe supports your claim during the intake and rebuttal process. You should not assume we’ll ask you for anything else.
Your case will be assigned to an investigator, who will review everything from both sides to see if we need any more information.
At this time we will:
- Call or email either side with questions.
- Take steps to gather any additional evidence.
- Or decide we have everything we need and begin the review process.
Once the investigator has everything they think they’ll need, they’ll look over the evidence and compare it to what’s required by law.
At that time, we’ll make what’s called a “determination” as to whether there is enough evidence of discrimination.
Please know that you can withdraw your case at any time after 45 days if you would rather proceed in court - even during the investigation - as long as you haven’t settled or been through a public hearing on your charge.
A determination of Probable Cause means you have enough reliable evidence to show that you experienced discrimination.
A determination of No Probable Cause means your evidence did not meet the legal standards needed to prove discrimination or there wasn’t enough evidence to overcome the other side’s response.
If you have multiple grounds for discrimination, for instance, discrimination based on race and gender identity, it’s possible that we could find Probable Cause on some grounds and No Probable Cause on others.
To be clear, though, a finding of No Probable Cause doesn’t necessarily mean discrimination didn’t happen. It just means there is not enough evidence to pursue a discrimination case.
If you disagree with the No Probable Cause determination, you can file a discrimination lawsuit in court or you can appeal to the Civil Rights Commission review panel, where they could either:
- Reverse the decision
- Require further investigation
- Or agree with the No Probable Cause determination
After the panel makes a decision, you can still file a lawsuit - should you wish to do so.
Once we have a Probable Cause determination, your case will first go to conciliation where you’ll attempt to reach a settlement agreement with the other side.
If successful, your agreement could include lost wages, your job back, the ability to stay in your home, training or policy changes.
If you cannot settle the case in conciliation, we will schedule a public hearing before a Civil Rights’ Commission panel.
The public hearing is like a trial, where you and the other side will each present your case.
If you prove discrimination, the hearing panel will decide what you get. Which, again, could include lost wages, your job back, the ability to stay in your home, training or policy changes.
Once more, if you feel you’ve been discriminated against, we encourage you to file a complaint, because the City of Minneapolis takes discrimination seriously.
Our goal is to protect and advance the civil and human rights of everyone who lives in, works in, and visits our city.
To submit a complaint or find more information, go to our website or call 311.