Senator Bonnie Westlin Ushers Minnesota Department of Human Rights Policy Bill to Senate Passage

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Tuesday, May 7 the Minnesota Senate passed House File 4109, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights Policy Bill, authored by Senator Bonnie Westlin (DFL – Plymouth). This bill includes updates to the Minnesota Human Rights Act that had been held up for years due to partisan gridlock. 

Highlights include:

  • Expanding and clarifying the definition of “disability” to include conditions that are episodic so when a person’s life is materially impacted by the condition it is considered a disability at that time.
  • Expanding and clarifying the definition of familial status to include parents and guardians who have custody or written permission from the parents to care for the child, as well as adults who are disabled and need assistance or care from another.
  • Expands the time a person has to file a civil action when a charge has been dismissed by a local human rights commission from 45 to 90 days.
  • Provides that it is unfair discrimination in certain places of public accommodation to discriminate based on the use of a service animal when the person has a disability (currently limited to physical and sensory disabilities).
  • Allows the court to order equitable relief in employment and housing cases, including reinstatement, back pay, and alternative housing.
  • Updating the definition on discriminate to include harassment based on a protected class, not just sex.

“Updating this bill means we are continuing the work to protect Minnesotans’ civil rights,” said Senator Westlin. “This bill represents some incredibly important, long-overdue updates that protect Minnesotans from many different backgrounds and life experiences. I am proud to author this legislation to ensure every Minnesotan lives with dignity under the law.”

The bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 66-0.

Senator Bonnie Westlin represents Senate District 42 which includes Maple Grove, Medicine Lake, and Plymouth. She is vice chair of the Elections Committee and serves on the Education Finance Committee and the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

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