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2001 Minnesota Session Laws

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                            CHAPTER 194-S.F.No. 1215 
                  An act relating to human rights; changing provisions 
                  pertaining to business discrimination and inquiry into 
                  a charge; permitting discretionary disclosure during 
                  investigation; amending Minnesota Statutes 2000, 
                  sections 363.01, subdivision 41; 363.03, subdivision 
                  8a; 363.06, subdivision 4; 363.061, subdivision 2. 
        BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
           Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 2000, section 363.01, 
        subdivision 41, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 41.  [SEXUAL HARASSMENT.] "Sexual harassment" 
        includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, 
        sexually motivated physical contact or other verbal or physical 
        conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:  
           (1) submission to that conduct or communication is made a 
        term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of obtaining 
        employment, public accommodations or public services, education, 
        or housing; 
           (2) submission to or rejection of that conduct or 
        communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions 
        affecting that individual's employment, public accommodations or 
        public services, education, or housing; or 
           (3) that conduct or communication has the purpose or effect 
        of substantially interfering with an individual's employment, 
        public accommodations or public services, education, or housing, 
        or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, 
        public accommodations, public services, educational, or housing 
        environment; and in the case of employment, the employer knows 
        or should know of the existence of the harassment and fails to 
        take timely and appropriate action.  
           Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 2000, section 363.03, 
        subdivision 8a, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 8a.  [BUSINESS DISCRIMINATION.] It is an unfair 
        discriminatory practice for a person engaged in a trade or 
        business or in the provision of a service:  
           (a) to refuse to do business with or provide a service to a 
        woman based on her use of her current or former surname; or 
           (b) to impose, as a condition of doing business with or 
        providing a service to a woman, that a woman use her current 
        surname rather than a former surname; or 
           (c) intentionally to intentionally refuse to do business 
        with, to refuse to contract with, or to discriminate in the 
        basic terms, conditions, or performance of the contract because 
        of a person's race, national origin, color, sex, sexual 
        orientation, or disability, unless the alleged refusal or 
        discrimination is because of a legitimate business purpose. 
           Nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit positive action 
        plans. 
           Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 2000, 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 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 give priority to investigating and 
        processing those charges, in the order below, which the 
        commissioner determines have the following characteristics:  
           (a) there is evidence of irreparable harm if immediate 
        action is not taken; 
           (b) there is evidence that the respondent has intentionally 
        engaged in a reprisal; 
           (c) a significant number of recent charges have been filed 
        against the respondent; 
           (d) the respondent is a government entity; 
           (e) there is potential for broadly promoting the policies 
        of this chapter; or 
           (f) the charge is supported by substantial and credible 
        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 the 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, or vacate and remand for further 
        consideration the determination of no probable cause within 20 
        days after receipt of the request for reconsideration, and shall 
        within ten days notify in writing the charging party and 
        respondent of the decision to reaffirm or, reverse, or vacate 
        and remand for further consideration. 
           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 the respondent's attorney if the respondent 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 
        an administrative law judge 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 the respondent 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 engaging 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 one year 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 chief administrative law judge 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 2000, section 363.061, 
        subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 2.  [ACCESS TO OPEN FILES.] (a) Except as otherwise 
        provided in this subdivision, human rights investigative data 
        contained in an open case file are confidential data on 
        individuals or protected nonpublic data.  The name and address 
        of the charging party and respondent, factual basis of the 
        allegations, and the statute under which the action is brought 
        are private data on individuals or nonpublic data but are 
        accessible to the charging party and the respondent. 
           (b) After making a finding of probable cause, the 
        commissioner may make human rights investigative data contained 
        in an open case file accessible to a person, government agency, 
        or the public if access will aid the investigative and 
        enforcement process.  After a charge has been filed, the 
        commissioner may disclose information to persons as the 
        commissioner deems necessary (1) to facilitate investigation or 
        disposition of the charge, or (2) to promote public health or 
        safety.  The commissioner may also disclose data about an open 
        case file to another governmental entity to assist that entity 
        or the department in processing a complaint or to eliminate 
        duplication of efforts in the investigation of the same or 
        similar facts as alleged in the charge.  To the extent that data 
        are disclosed to other governmental entities, it must be 
        stipulated that section 13.03, subdivision 4, applies to the 
        classification of the data. 
           (c) After making a finding of probable cause, the 
        commissioner may make human rights investigative data contained 
        in an open case file accessible to a person, government agency, 
        or the public if access will aid the investigative and 
        enforcement process. 
           Presented to the governor May 23, 2001 
           Signed by the governor May 24, 2001, 2:01 p.m.

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