By Michael K. Browne, Assistant Director – Complaint Investigations
Did you know that you can still file a civil rights complaint with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department during the state government shutdown? Well, in the past few days, several individuals have asked me about the affect the Minnesota state government shutdown will have on the Minneapolis civil rights complaint processing and on civil rights enforcement in general. Logically, folks are concerned that lack state distributed funds will have an impact on more than just directly funded state entities. This is particularly true given the unforeseen length of time we will be without our lead state agency, the Minnesota Human Rights Department.
To put the effects of the shutdown into context, it is helpful to highlight a section of the June 29, 2011 Temporary Funding Order issued by the Honorable Kathleen R. Gearin, Chief Judge of the Ramsey County District Court. On page 14, Judge Gearin clearly indicates that municipalities [such as the city of Minneapolis] will continue to receive its allocated funding under the Local Government Aid legislation, because: “[t]hese funds have already been lawfully appropriated and should be paid on schedule.” Accordingly, while funding may be a limitation on several direct and indirect entities, the civil rights complaint processing program in Minneapolis will continue to operate as it did before July 1, 2011, and will continue to receive and file complaints of discrimination.
Did you know that if you file your complaint with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, we will preserve your rights under federal and state law? Yes, by filing a complaint that meets the jurisdictional requirements of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance, we can toll (or stop) the statute of limitations from running out on your civil rights claims. This is made possible by the work-share agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and our designation as a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA) that allows us to dual-file the complaint. Additionally, the Minnesota Human Rights Act (state law) allows for local commissions (like us) to accept charges of discrimination under municipal ordinance and toll the state statute.
So what do you need to do? Call or e-mail us. Tell us your situation so we can help you determine if we have jurisdiction over your case. In general, if the incident happened in the Minneapolis, and the alleged violating party is not a federal, state or county entity, chances are good that we have jurisdiction over the matter, and we can assist you.