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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

  

                         Laws of Minnesota 1984 

                        CHAPTER 567-S.F.No. 1762
           An act relating to the human rights department; 
          prohibiting waiver of legal rights; changing the 
          statute of limitations; providing sanctions for 
          intentional delays; permitting award of attorney fees 
          in administrative hearings; changing damage awards; 
          amending Minnesota Statutes 1982, sections 363.06, 
          subdivision 3; 363.071, by adding a subdivision; 
          363.116; 363.117; 363.14, subdivisions 1 and 2; 
          Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, sections 363.06, 
          subdivision 4; 363.071, subdivision 2; and 363.072, 
          subdivision 1; proposing new law coded in Minnesota 
          Statutes, chapter 363. 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
    Section 1.  [363.031] [WAIVER PROHIBITED.] 
    Any provision, whether oral or written, of a lease, 
contract, or other agreement or instrument, which purports to be 
a waiver by an individual of any right or remedy provided in 
chapter 363 is contrary to public policy and void.  Nothing in 
this section shall be construed to prevent a waiver given in 
full and final written settlement of an existing, identified 
claim, whether by grievance, mediation, arbitration, or other 
settlement agreement.  
    Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1982, section 363.06, 
subdivision 3, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 3.  [TIME FOR FILING CLAIM.] A claim of an unfair 
discriminatory practice must be brought as a civil action 
pursuant to section 363.14, subdivision 1, clause (a), filed in 
a charge with a local commission pursuant to section 363.116, or 
filed in a charge with the commissioner within six months 300 
days after the occurrence of the practice.  The running of the 
300 day limitation period is suspended during the time a 
potential charging party and respondent are voluntarily engaged 
in a dispute resolution process involving a claim of unlawful 
discrimination under chapter 363, including arbitration, 
conciliation, mediation or grievance procedures pursuant to a 
collective bargaining agreement or statutory, charter, or 
ordinance provisions for a civil service or other employment 
system.  A potential respondent who participates in such a 
process with a potential charging party before a charge is filed 
or a civil action is brought shall notify the department and the 
charging party in writing of his or her participation in the 
process and the date the process commenced, and shall also 
notify the department and the charging party of the ending date 
of the process.  A respondent who fails to provide this 
notification is barred from raising the defense that the statute 
of limitations has run unless the 300 days plus a period of time 
equal to the suspension period has passed.  
    Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
363.06, subdivision 4, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 4.  [INQUIRY INTO CHARGE.] (1) Consistent with clause 
(7), the commissioner shall promptly inquire into the truth of 
the allegations of the charge.  The commissioner shall make an 
immediate inquiry when necessary to prevent a charging party 
from suffering irreparable loss in the absence of immediate 
action a charge alleges actual or threatened physical violence.  
The commissioner shall also make an immediate inquiry when it 
appears that a charge is frivolous or without merit and shall 
dismiss those charges. 
    The commissioner shall then give priority to investigating 
and processing those charges which the commissioner determines 
have one or more of the following characteristics:  
    (a) there is evidence that the respondent has intentionally 
engaged in a reprisal;  
    (b) there is evidence of irreparable harm if immediate 
action is not taken;  
    (c) there is potential for broadly promoting the policies 
of this chapter;  
    (d) a significant number of recent charges have been filed 
against the respondent;  
    (e) the respondent is a government entity;  
    (f) the charge is supported by substantial documentation, 
witnesses, or other evidence.  
    The commissioner shall inform charging parties of these 
priorities and shall tell each party if their charge is a 
priority case or not.  
     On other charges the commissioner shall make a 
determination within 12 months after the charge was filed as to 
whether or not there is probable cause to credit the allegation 
of unfair discriminatory practices, and 
    (2) If the commissioner determines after investigation that 
no probable cause exists to credit the allegations of the unfair 
discriminatory practice, the commissioner shall, within ten days 
of the determination, serve upon the charging party and 
respondent written notice of the determination.  Within ten days 
after receipt of notice, the charging party may request in 
writing on forms prepared by the department that the 
commissioner reconsider his determination.  The request shall 
contain a brief statement of the reasons for and new evidence in 
support of the request for reconsideration.  At the time of 
submission of the request to the commissioner, the charging 
party shall deliver or mail to the respondent a copy of the 
request for reconsideration.  The commissioner shall either 
reaffirm or reverse his determination of no probable cause 
within 20 days after receipt of the request for reconsideration, 
and he shall within ten days notify in writing the charging 
party and respondent of his decision to reaffirm or reverse.  
    A decision by the commissioner that no probable cause 
exists to credit the allegations of an unfair discriminatory 
practice shall not be appealed to the court of appeals pursuant 
to section 363.072 or sections 14.63 to 14.68. 
    (3) If the commissioner determines after investigation that 
probable cause exists to credit the allegations of unfair 
discriminatory practices, the commissioner shall serve on the 
respondent and his attorney if he is represented by counsel, by 
first class mail, a notice setting forth a short plain written 
statement of the alleged facts which support the finding of 
probable cause and an enumeration of the provisions of law 
allegedly violated.  If the commissioner determines that 
attempts to eliminate the alleged unfair practices through 
conciliation pursuant to subdivision 5 have been or would be 
unsuccessful or unproductive, the commissioner shall issue a 
complaint and serve on the respondent, by registered or 
certified mail, a written notice of hearing together with a copy 
of the complaint, requiring the respondent to answer the 
allegations of the complaint at a hearing before a hearing 
examiner at a time and place specified in the notice, not less 
than ten days after service of said complaint.  A copy of the 
notice shall be furnished to the charging party and the attorney 
general. 
      (4) If, at any time after the filing of a charge, the 
commissioner has reason to believe that a respondent has engaged 
in any unfair discriminatory practice, the commissioner may file 
a petition in the district court in a county in which the 
subject of the complaint occurs, or in a county in which a 
respondent resides or transacts business, seeking appropriate 
temporary relief against the respondent, pending final 
determination of proceedings under this chapter, including an 
order or decree restraining him from doing or procuring an act 
tending to render ineffectual an order the commissioner may 
enter with respect to the complaint.  The court shall have power 
to grant temporary relief or a restraining order as it deems 
just and proper, but no relief or order extending beyond ten 
days shall be granted except by consent of the respondent or 
after hearing upon notice to the respondent and a finding by the 
court that there is reasonable cause to believe that the 
respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice.  Except as 
modified by this section, the Minnesota rules of civil procedure 
shall apply to an application, and the district court shall have 
authority to grant or deny the relief sought on conditions as it 
deems just and equitable.  All hearings under this section shall 
be given precedence as nearly as practicable over all other 
pending civil actions. 
    (5) If a lessor, after he has engaged in a discriminatory 
practice defined in section 363.03, subdivision 2, clause (1), 
(a), leases or rents a dwelling unit to a person who has no 
knowledge of the practice or of the existence of a charge with 
respect to the practice, the lessor shall be liable for actual 
damages sustained by a person by reason of a final order as 
provided in this section requiring the person to be evicted from 
the dwelling unit. 
    (6) In any complaint issued under this section, the 
commissioner may seek relief for a class of individuals affected 
by an unfair discriminatory practice occurring on or after a 
date six months 300 days prior to the filing of the charge from 
which the complaint originates. 
    (7) The commissioner may adopt policies to determine which 
charges are processed and the order in which charges are 
processed based on their particular social or legal 
significance, administrative convenience, difficulty of 
resolution, or other standard consistent with the provisions of 
this chapter. 
    (8) The hearing examiner shall adopt policies to provide 
sanctions for intentional and frivolous delay caused by any 
charging party or respondent in an investigation, hearing, or 
any other aspect of proceedings before the department under this 
chapter.  
    Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 1982, section 363.071, is 
amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
    Subd. 1a.  [HEARINGS 180 DAYS AFTER CHARGE.] At any time 
after 180 days from the filing of a charge, if there has been 
neither a finding of probable cause nor of no probable cause, 
the charging party may file a request with the commissioner to 
appear at a hearing on his own behalf or through a private 
attorney.  Upon receipt of the request, the commissioner shall 
review the documents and information held in the department's 
files concerning the charge and shall release to the charging 
party and respondent all documents and information that is 
accessible to the charging party and respondent under sections 
13.01 to 13.87.  The commissioner shall forward the request for 
hearing to the office of administrative hearings, which shall 
promptly set the matter for hearing.  If the charging party 
prevails at this hearing, the hearing examiner may require the 
respondent to reimburse the charging party for reasonable 
attorney's fees.  
    Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
363.071, subdivision 2, is amended to read:  
    Subd. 2.  [DETERMINATION OF DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE.] The 
hearing examiner shall make findings of fact and conclusions of 
law, and if the hearing examiner finds that the respondent has 
engaged in an unfair discriminatory practice, the hearing 
examiner shall issue an order directing the respondent to cease 
and desist from the unfair discriminatory practice found to 
exist and to take such affirmative action as in the judgment of 
the examiner will effectuate the purposes of this chapter.  Such 
order shall be a final decision of the department.  The examiner 
shall order any respondent found to be in violation of any 
provision of section 363.03 to pay a civil penalty to the 
state.  This penalty is in addition to compensatory and punitive 
damages to be paid to an aggrieved party.  The hearing examiner 
shall determine the amount of the civil penalty to be paid, 
taking into account the seriousness and extent of the violation, 
the public harm occasioned by the violation, whether the 
violation was intentional, and the financial resources of the 
respondent.  Any penalties imposed under this provision shall be 
paid into the general fund of the state.  In all cases where the 
examiner may finds that the respondent has engaged in an unfair 
discriminatory practice the examiner shall order the respondent 
to pay an aggrieved party, who has suffered discrimination, 
compensatory damages, including damages for mental anguish or 
suffering, and, in an amount up to three times the actual 
damages sustained.  In all cases, the examiner may also order 
the respondent to pay an aggrieved party, who has suffered 
discrimination, damages for mental anguish or suffering and 
reasonable attorney's fees, in addition to punitive damages in 
an amount not more than $6,000.  Punitive damages shall be 
awarded pursuant to section 549.20.  In any case where a 
political subdivision is a respondent the total of punitive 
damages awarded an aggrieved party may not exceed $6,000 and in 
that case if there are two or more respondents the punitive 
damages may be apportioned among them.  Punitive damages may 
only be assessed against a political subdivision in its capacity 
as a corporate entity and no regular or ex officio member of a 
governing body of a political subdivision shall be personally 
liable for payment of punitive damages pursuant to this 
subdivision.  In addition to the aforesaid remedies, in a case 
involving discrimination in 
    (a) employment, the examiner may order the hiring, 
reinstatement or upgrading of an aggrieved party, who has 
suffered discrimination, with or without back pay, admission or 
restoration to membership in a labor organization, or his 
admission to or participation in an apprenticeship training 
program, on-the-job-training program, or other retraining 
program, or any other relief the examiner deems just and 
equitable. 
    (b) housing, the examiner may order the sale, lease, or 
rental of the housing accommodation or other real property to an 
aggrieved party, who has suffered discrimination, or the sale, 
lease or rental of a like accommodation or other real property 
owned by or under the control of the person against whom the 
complaint was filed, according to terms as listed with a real 
estate broker, or if no such listing has been made, as otherwise 
advertised or offered by the vendor or lessor, or any other 
relief the examiner deems just and equitable. 
     The examiner shall cause the findings of fact, conclusions 
of law, and order to be served on the respondent personally, the 
charging party by registered or certified mail, and shall 
furnish copies to the attorney general and the commissioner. 
    Sec. 6.  Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
363.072, subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
    Subdivision 1.  [APPEAL.] The commissioner or a person 
aggrieved by a final decision of the department reached after a 
hearing held pursuant to section 363.071 may seek judicial 
review in accordance with chapter 14.  The attorney general 
shall represent on appeal, a charging party who prevailed at a 
hearing authorized by section 4, if the charging party requests 
representation within ten days after receipt of the petition for 
appeal.  
    Sec. 7.  Minnesota Statutes 1982, section 363.116, is 
amended to read: 
    363.116 [TRANSFER TO COMMISSIONER.] 
    A local commission may refer a matter under its 
jurisdiction to the commissioner.  
    The charging party has the option of filing a charge either 
with a local commission or the department.  Notwithstanding the 
provisions of any ordinance to the contrary, a charge may be 
filed with a local commission within 300 days after the 
occurrence of the practice.  The exercise of such choice in 
filing a charge with one agency shall preclude the option of 
filing the same charge with the other agency.  At the time a 
charge comes to the attention of a local agency, the agency or 
its representative shall inform the charging party of this 
option, and of his rights under Laws 1967, Chapter 897.  
    The term "local commission" as used in this section has the 
same meaning given the term in section 363.115.  
    Sec. 8.  Minnesota Statutes 1982, section 363.14, 
subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
    Subdivision 1.  [COURT ACTIONS, SUITS BY PRIVATE PARTIES, 
INTERVENTION.] A person may bring a civil action seeking redress 
for an unfair discriminatory practice: 
    (a) Directly to district court; or 
    (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the 
contrary, (1) within 45 days after the commissioner has 
dismissed a charge because it is frivolous or without merit, 
because the charging party has failed to provide required 
information, because the commissioner has determined that 
further use of department resources is not warranted, or because 
the commissioner has determined that there is no probable cause 
to credit the allegations contained in a charge filed with the 
commissioner; (2) within 45 days after the commissioner has 
reaffirmed his determination of no probable cause if the 
charging party requested a reconsideration of the probable cause 
determination; or (2) (3) after 45 days from the filing of a 
charge pursuant to section 363.06, subdivision 1 if a hearing 
has not been held pursuant to section 363.071 or if the 
commissioner has not entered into a conciliation agreement to 
which the charging party is a signator.  The charging party 
shall notify the commissioner of his intention to bring a civil 
action, which shall be commenced within 90 days of giving the 
notice;  
    (c) The commissioner may dismiss, without prejudice to the 
charging party, any case filed with the department on or before 
June 30, 1978.  The commissioner shall notify a charging party 
by regular mail sent before August 1, 1981, that he has a right 
to bring a civil action pursuant to this section.  Upon giving 
this notice the commissioner shall end all proceedings in the 
department relating to the charge.  Notwithstanding any 
statutory period of limitation to the contrary, an individual 
notified pursuant to this clause may bring a civil action 
relating to his charge; provided that the action is filed on or 
before February 1, 1982. 
    A charging party bringing a civil action shall mail by 
registered or certified mail a copy of the summons and complaint 
to the commissioner, and upon their receipt the commissioner 
shall terminate all proceedings in the department relating to 
the charge.  No charge shall be filed or reinstituted with the 
commissioner after a civil action relating to the same unfair 
discriminatory practice has been brought unless the civil action 
has been dismissed without prejudice. 
    Upon application by the complaining party to the district 
court at a special term and under circumstances the court deems 
just, the court may appoint an attorney for the person and may 
authorize the commencement of the action without payment of 
fees, costs, or security. 
    Upon timely application, the court may permit the 
department to intervene in a civil action brought pursuant to 
this section upon certification that the case is of general 
public importance. 
    Sec. 9.  Minnesota Statutes 1982, section 363.14, 
subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 2.  [DISTRICT COURT JURISDICTION.] Any action brought 
pursuant to this section shall be filed in the district court of 
the county wherein the unlawful discriminatory practice is 
alleged to have been committed or where the respondent resides 
or has his principal place of business. 
    Any action brought pursuant to this chapter shall be heard 
and determined by a judge sitting without a jury. 
    If the court finds that the respondent has engaged in an 
unfair discriminatory practice, it shall issue an order 
directing such appropriate relief as it deems appropriate and 
which effectuates the purpose of this chapter.  Such relief 
shall be limited to that permitted as provided by section 
363.071, subdivision 2. 
    Sec. 10.  [EFFECTIVE DATE; APPLICATION.] 
    Sections 1 to 9 are effective August 1, 1984.  Section 4 
applies only to causes of action arising after the effective 
date of this act.  
<$Eject>
    Approved April 26, 1984