as introduced - 83rd Legislature (2003 - 2004) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am
1.1 A bill for an act 1.2 relating to human rights; changing provisions for 1.3 charge processing; allowing the department to seek 1.4 sanctions; authorizing release of protected data in 1.5 certain cases; repealing the 180-day hearing; amending 1.6 Minnesota Statutes 2003 Supplement, sections 363A.28, 1.7 subdivision 6; 363A.35, subdivision 3; repealing 1.8 Minnesota Statutes 2003 Supplement, section 363A.29, 1.9 subdivision 2. 1.10 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 1.11 Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2003 Supplement, section 1.12 363A.28, subdivision 6, is amended to read: 1.13 Subd. 6. [CHARGE PROCESSING.] (1) Consistent with clause 1.14 (7), the commissioner shall promptly inquire into the truth of 1.15 the allegations of the charge. The commissioner shall make an 1.16 immediate inquiry when a charge alleges actual or threatened 1.17 physical violence. The commissioner shall also make an 1.18 immediate inquiry when it appears that a charge is frivolous or 1.19 without merit and shall dismiss those charges. 1.20 The commissioner shall give priority to investigating and 1.21 processing those charges, in the order below, which the 1.22 commissioner determines have the following characteristics: 1.23 (a) there is evidence of irreparable harm if immediate 1.24 action is not taken; 1.25 (b) there is evidence that the respondent has intentionally 1.26 engaged in a reprisal; 1.27 (c) a significant number of recent charges have been filed 2.1 against the respondent; 2.2 (d) the respondent is a government entity; 2.3 (e) there is potential for broadly promoting the policies 2.4 of this chapter; or 2.5 (f) the charge is supported by substantial and credible 2.6 documentation, witnesses, or other evidence. 2.7 The commissioner shall inform charging parties of these 2.8 priorities and shall tell each party if their charge is a 2.9 priority case or not. 2.10 On other charges the commissioner shall make a 2.11 determination within 12 months after the charge was filed as to 2.12 whether or not there is probable cause to credit the allegation 2.13 of unfair discriminatory practices, except that the amount of 2.14 time during which another enforcement agency is investigating a 2.15 case under a work sharing agreement is not counted in computing 2.16 the 12-month period, and 2.17 (2) If the commissioner determines after investigation that 2.18 no probable cause exists to credit the allegations of the unfair 2.19 discriminatory practice, the commissioner shall, within ten days 2.20 of the determination, serve upon the charging party and 2.21 respondent written notice of the determination. Within ten days 2.22 after receipt of notice, the charging party may request in 2.23 writing, on forms prepared by the department, that the 2.24 commissioner reconsider the determination. The request shall 2.25 contain a brief statement of the reasons for and new evidence in 2.26 support of the request for reconsideration. At the time of 2.27 submission of the request to the commissioner, the charging 2.28 party shall deliver or mail to the respondent a copy of the 2.29 request for reconsideration. The commissioner shall reaffirm, 2.30 reverse, or vacate and remand for further consideration the 2.31 determination of no probable cause within 20 days after receipt 2.32 of the request for reconsideration, and shall within ten days 2.33 notify in writing the charging party and respondent of the 2.34 decision to reaffirm, reverse, or vacate and remand for further 2.35 consideration. 2.36 A decision by the commissioner that no probable cause 3.1 exists to credit the allegations of an unfair discriminatory 3.2 practice shall not be appealed to the Court of Appeals pursuant 3.3 to section 363A.36 or sections 14.63 to 14.68. 3.4 (3) If the commissioner determines after investigation that 3.5 probable cause exists to credit the allegations of unfair 3.6 discriminatory practices, the commissioner shall serve on the 3.7 respondent and the respondent's attorney if the respondent is 3.8 represented by counsel, by first class mail, a notice setting 3.9 forth a short plain written statement of the alleged facts which 3.10 support the finding of probable cause and an enumeration of the 3.11 provisions of law allegedly violated. If the commissioner 3.12 determines that attempts to eliminate the alleged unfair 3.13 practices through conciliation pursuant to subdivision 8 have 3.14 been or would be unsuccessful or unproductive, the commissioner 3.15 shall issue a complaint and serve on the respondent, by 3.16 registered or certified mail, a written notice of hearing 3.17 together with a copy of the complaint, requiring the respondent 3.18 to answer the allegations of the complaint at a hearing before 3.19 an administrative law judge at a time and place specified in the 3.20 notice, not less than ten days after service of said complaint. 3.21 A copy of the notice shall be furnished to the charging party 3.22 and the attorney general. 3.23 (4) If, at any time after the filing of a charge, the 3.24 commissioner has reason to believe that a respondent has engaged 3.25 in any unfair discriminatory practice, the commissioner may file 3.26 a petition in the district court in a county in which the 3.27 subject of the complaint occurs, or in a county in which a 3.28 respondent resides or transacts business, seeking appropriate 3.29 temporary relief against the respondent, pending final 3.30 determination of proceedings under this chapter, including an 3.31 order or decree restraining the respondent from doing or 3.32 procuring an act tending to render ineffectual an order the 3.33 commissioner may enter with respect to the complaint. The court 3.34 shall have power to grant temporary relief or a restraining 3.35 order as it deems just and proper, but no relief or order 3.36 extending beyond ten days shall be granted except by consent of 4.1 the respondent or after hearing upon notice to the respondent 4.2 and a finding by the court that there is reasonable cause to 4.3 believe that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory 4.4 practice. Except as modified by subdivisions 1 to 9 and section 4.5 363A.06, subdivision 4, the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure 4.6 shall apply to an application, and the district court shall have 4.7 authority to grant or deny the relief sought on conditions as it 4.8 deems just and equitable. All hearings under subdivisions 1 to 4.9 9 and section 363A.06, subdivision 4, shall be given precedence 4.10 as nearly as practicable over all other pending civil actions. 4.11 (5) If a lessor, after engaging in a discriminatory 4.12 practice defined in section 363A.09, subdivision 1, clause (a), 4.13 leases or rents a dwelling unit to a person who has no knowledge 4.14 of the practice or of the existence of a charge with respect to 4.15 the practice, the lessor shall be liable for actual damages 4.16 sustained by a person by reason of a final order as provided in 4.17 subdivisions 1 to 9 and section 363A.06, subdivision 4, 4.18 requiring the person to be evicted from the dwelling unit. 4.19 (6) In any complaint issued under subdivisions 1 to 9 and 4.20 section 363A.06, subdivision 4, the commissioner may seek relief 4.21 for a class of individuals affected by an unfair discriminatory 4.22 practice occurring on or after a date one year prior to the 4.23 filing of the charge from which the complaint originates. 4.24 (7) The commissioner may adopt policies to determine which 4.25 charges are processed and the order in which charges are 4.26 processed based on their particular social or legal 4.27 significance, administrative convenience, difficulty of 4.28 resolution, or other standard consistent with the provisions of 4.29 this chapter. 4.30 (8) The chief administrative law judge shall adopt policies 4.31 to provide sanctions, which may include but are not limited to 4.32 damages, attorney fees, and costs for intentional and frivolous 4.33 delay caused by any charging party or respondent in an 4.34 investigation, hearing, or any other aspect of proceedings 4.35 before the department under this chapter. The department, as 4.36 well as any charging party or respondent, has standing to 5.1 petition the chief administrative law judge for an order 5.2 imposing sanctions. 5.3 Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2003 Supplement, section 5.4 363A.35, subdivision 3, is amended to read: 5.5 Subd. 3. [ACCESS TO CLOSED FILES.] (a) Except as otherwise 5.6 provided in this subdivision, human rights investigative data 5.7 contained in a closed case file are private data on individuals 5.8 or nonpublic data. The name and address of the charging party 5.9 and respondent, factual basis of the allegations, the statute 5.10 under which the action is brought, the part of the summary of 5.11 the investigation that does not contain identifying data on a 5.12 person other than the complainant or respondent, and the 5.13 commissioner's memorandum determining whether probable cause has 5.14 been shown are public data. After a file has been closed, the 5.15 commissioner may disclose data about a closed case file to 5.16 another governmental entity to assist that entity in processing 5.17 a complaint or to eliminate duplication of efforts in the 5.18 investigation of the same or similar facts as alleged in the 5.19 charge. To the extent that data are disclosed to other 5.20 governmental entities, it must be stipulated that section 13.03, 5.21 subdivision 4, applies to the classification of the data. 5.22 (b) The commissioner may make human rights investigative 5.23 data contained in a closed case file inaccessible to the 5.24 charging party or the respondent in order to protect medical or 5.25 other security interests of the parties or third persons. 5.26 Sec. 3. [REPEALER.] 5.27 Minnesota Statutes 2003 Supplement, section 363A.29, 5.28 subdivision 2, is repealed.